By The Time You Read This by Lola Jaye
This is my (Kevin Bates) manual for my daughter Lois. The love of my life. Rules of the manual: 1.You must only read each new entry on your birthday 2.This is a private manual between you and me. 3.No peeping at the next entry unless it’s your birthday! When Lois Bates is handed the manual, she can barely bring herself to read it as the pain of her dad’s death is still so raw.Yet soon Kevin’s advice is guiding her through every stage of her life — from jobs to first loves and relationships. The manual can never be a substitute for having her dad back, but through his words Lois learns to start living again, and finds that happiness is waiting round the corner !
I was attracted to this book by the cover – green with a pretty pattern and the title. The title reminded me of Elizabeth Noble’s Things I Want My Daughter’s to Know – and in fact this book sports a similar theme: it is communication left from a dead parent for the children. When Lois is five her Dad dies. Up until the age of twelve Lois knows nothing about The Manual her Dad has left. This Manual is a hand written book with an entry on every birthday up until her thirtieth birthday.
Although not a particularly original idea, it was a good read. What was different was the fact the Manual was written by the Dad not the Mum, which highlights a special bond between father and daughter. I think Jaye’s writing of the Manual was very good and I didn’t for one moment think that this was a woman writing as a man – she wrote the part of the father well. She encompassed all the things a Dad would say to his little girl as she grows up – such as hoping she hasn’t discovered men! I think the advice given was helpful to Lois, and the reader. It was fresh and wise.
The Manual consisted of many sections, and of course the note on every birthday. However, not all of the Manual was in the book. Jaye skipped out years and didn’t include all the Miscellaneous section. Although I can understand why she did this, I do think it is a shame as a lot of emphasis is placed on how she can only read the next year’s message on her birthday. It is only a 320 page book too, which meant a lot of her life was missed out/rushed too. We follow Lois from the age of twelve to the age of thirty in not very many pages – some of which are full of the Manual. I sometimes found myself a bit lost and wondering how old she is now. I also found that this meant the only people in the book I felt connected too were the Dad and Lois. There were some important other characters who featured throughout the entire book but I didn’t seem to know them as intimately as I would have liked.
I found I had several questions too, such as what happened between her Dad and his sister? Why was the Manual started at the age of twelve? I found some things unclear. The ending was a bit predictable, but it was a happy ending.
Having listed my complaints, I must say that I found this very readable. I read it in two sittings – the story flew off the page. I am criticising the book like I am because I enjoyed the book and felt there could have been more in it to make it excellent. Although we didn’t know all the characters well I liked them, and I found myself cheering Lois on. This is chick-lit, and it is an easy read. To be honest I probably preferred Things I Want My Daughters To Know, but I did enjoy this book and would recommend it.