Dear You By Tessa Broad
Red Door Books Publishing ~ 26/06/2017
Guest Review ~ Kimberly Livingston
Tess Broad wanted children. She longed for them. It wasn’t to be. In this candid and moving memoir, Tess writes to the children that never were. She writes to them as their adult selves with openness and honesty and tells them of the childhood she envisaged for them and the mother she believed she would be. She describes her reluctant transformation from the woebegone, wannabe mummy that she once was, to the woman she is now; childless but chilled, sailing through Mother’s Day with a smile on her face. Happy. From the ‘trying for a family’ stage to the relentless treadmill of infertility treatment, Tess recounts her story with humour and pathos, taking the reader on her journey with her, sharing her experiences, the roller-coaster ride of IVF, the sudden departure of the husband whose children she wanted to have and ultimately to acceptance that the life she wanted and expected was not hers for the taking. This is a breathtaking memoir that offers a shoulder to lean on for everyone experiencing the uncertainties and pain of infertility.
Guest Review By Kimberly Livingston
Dear You: A Letter to my Unborn Children is a memoir/novel length letter by Tessa Broad to her never conceived adult children. She imagines having had a daughter, Lily, and one or possibly two sons. The book is full of raw emotion and painful, honest experiences, but it also has humour and hope for anyone who is childless (versus child-free, a distinction she makes very clear). Tessa describes her move away from a “life pining for a baby” as a “very gradual process….not just like stepping over a line.” Tessa passes down her history and advice the same way parents naturally do to their children. It just so happens that Tessa’s life stories and lessons are for the reader’s benefit instead. As I began to read, I wish that I had thought of her idea as I struggled with my own childlessness in my younger days. Tessa writes on the very first page, “I’m writing to you simply because I feel that I know you, that I love you; and I’d like you to get to know me. I want this letter to feel like you have spent time with me and me with you.”
The beginning of the book focuses on Tessa’s fertility treatments. I didn’t need as detailed a description of the process as the author gives, but I can see other readers being fascinated with the information. I am glad that I kept reading because the next section addresses the emotional and public side of what a childless woman deals with on a constant basis. From enduring mothers’ day year after year to jealously listening to groups of moms sit around describing their pregnancies. The painful reality of both I have myself experienced. Ironically, the same day I finished reading Dear You a female friend of my husband’s said to me, “I hope this isn’t too personal, but did you ever want your own children?” Both Tess and I have tolerated being asked this question for years. I loved her humour of how she answered at times, and I wish I had the grit to have come up with similar answers. She also describes how she has overcompensated when enjoying time with other people’s children to “somehow prove my ability to mother”, another concept I fully comprehend. The final section of the book Tess describes herself and gives titbits of advice. Think Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen but in paragraph form.
This book has been described as offering a “shoulder to lean on for everyone experiencing the uncertainties and pain of infertility”, but it isn’t only for women who are trying for children. I believe women and men, those with children, who are childless, or those who are happily child free will connect with Dear You.
Thank you to Tessa Broad and Red Door Publishing for the opportunity to be on the tour!
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