Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson
Genre: Realistic fiction
“In those seconds, I suppose I learned that chaos doesn’t need to breed more chaos. Sometimes all it takes is the right person by your side to make everything all right in the end.”
Ten Birthdays was heart warming and unexpectedly poignant.
Poppy lost her mom on her 15th birthday. But what Poppy doesn’t know is that her mother has written her one letter for each of her next ten birthdays so that she could remain a part of her life. Each chapter follows another year in Poppy’s life, another birthday as she reflects on the previous year, and struggles with problems of growing up. Each year we wait with baited breath for the long awaited letter from her mother, filled with love, laughter, and advice on how to live life well.
There was something so genuine, so true to life about this book. There is a quirky quality to the stories that can only be born out of real life, which makes sense as Wilkinson took many events in the book from her own life. The things that Poppy deals with are not over-dramatic, but every day moments and problems that most people face in growing up and discovering who we are.
I loved that her relationships with her childhood friends remained constant, yet they changed as Poppy, Freya, and Mark changed and grew apart. The characters felt so real–I know people like Poppy, like Mark, like Freya–with both positive and negative sides. I love that though they are key figures in Poppy’s life, we see that she has other friends as well, and that people come in and out of her life as time passes.
Her mother’s letters were also achingly real and filled with poignant advice about life and how to live it well. Having just turned 25 a few months ago, I related so intensely to Poppy’s story. I have seen in my own life people growing up and changing and moving away and remaining and everything that Poppy experiences. Like Poppy, I too am trying to figure out the course of my life, and it isn’t easy, so I found myself almost moved to tears at her mother’s words and reminders.
This book came to me at a time when I needed the same encouragement as Poppy–to know that life goes on and that while growing up is hard, you have a world a possibilities at your feet–a blank page and only you can decide how to fill it.
Of course I must thank Netgalley for sending me this book as an ARC and I can say I highly recommend it to readers of all ages.