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And you won’t be the only one who loves it. The Legacy Letters has won several awards including best fiction and best non-fiction.
How’s that possible? When I started reading, I initially thought the book was non-fiction and then learned on the book flap that The Legacy Letters is Carew Papritz’s first work of fiction. I can see how it was placed in both categories.
I’m not sure knowing that a book is fiction or non-fiction changes my interpretation or response to it, but it’s something I’ll be more mindful about in the future. Curious if it does for you?
Regardless, I loved this small book of big moments, life lessons and regrets-to-be (as the main character calls them) written in beautifully descriptive and poetic words. I’m not spoiling anything by letting you know this book is a series of letters written by a husband estranged from his wife (it’s stated on the back cover). Only after this separation did he learn he was terminally ill and that his wife was pregnant with twins.
You would think facing those major life (and death) changes would bring them back together. Rather, he isolates himself in a remote place to write letters to his future son and daughter that he would never see. And that the children would not receive the letters until they were 10 years old.
That made me pause and is why I gave this book 4* rather than 5*. I couldn’t get past the fact that he assumed it was better for everyone if he stayed away. Your wife’s pregnant (and how did you know she was having a boy and a girl?). She and the children need you. But is this really a flaw in the story or rather a character flaw and we all fall short every single day of how others believe we should behave? After all, what other people think of you is, fortunately, none of your business.
So I put aside my judgement and boxed away that criticism and unanswered questions and focused on the meaningful and heartwarming messages of love, life, grief, passion and more.
As I write this book review of The Legacy Letters, my son is in his final week of college. And even though he’s 21, I still wonder if I’ve shared enough life lessons with him. Maybe I should have written them down also. He would probably roll his eyes at me like the time I asked him if I ever told him he shouldn’t put a knife into a toaster while it’s plugged in (he was 18 and we were moving him into his college dorm).
Not to give too much away, I did want to share a few of my favorite gems that I believe all to-be parents, parents of toddlers, parents of teenagers, parents of kids going off to college, grandparents, college graduates and emptynesters could appreciate. Actually, anyone could benefit to meditate on some of The Legacy Letters’ “declarations of what’s important in life” to become better versions of themselves.
It was a challenge to narrow down my favorite takeaways (as I pretty much had a favorite on every page), but here are a few in my book review of The Legacy Letters.
Find better dance partners
“Life is too short to be dancing with idiots.”
While idiots are not avoidable, this declaration is a reminder that how you spend your time and who you spend your time with is a choice. Your choice. Find a better dance partner.
Busy. Busy. Busy.
“You can busy yourself right into the grave.”
Don’t do this.
Read. Read. Read.
“Read what you like, not what you’re told to like. That way you’ll read for a lifetime.”
I’m always astonished when I cross paths with people who don’t read. Some who haven’t read a book since high school or college. It’s a way of life beyond my comprehension. Some of my favorite memories of my son is reading to him, my son reading to me, reading with him or spending hours together browsing in a bookstore.
Travel. Travel. Travel.
“Because when you travel, really travel…you will be forever changed…not just forever riding on the coattails of your own purposely filled fenced and tightly mowed backyard of a world.”
I believe travel is the best gift we can gift to our children and to ourselves.
“And when you understand that it is possible for someone you have lost to become part of who you are, only then will you realize a most amazing and different life, filled with an immense power and sadness, so infinitely unexplainable and yet so ferocious with purpose.”
Take a moment and reread that message. And then read it again.
“Sometimes you may feel as if you don’t fit into this world. Stumble around then and be curious…until you fall into your passions.”
This sentiment has no shelf life. In fact, it describes me perfectly at the moment. Still stumbling. Still curious. Still falling into my passions.
Get out of your own way
Now I’ve got U2’s song stuck in my head…and if only I could practice the following words of wisdom in my overthinking mind.
“Longest of your echoing nights which contain the merry-go-round of your greatest fears and longings.”
Do your best
“Make doing your best a habit and you’ll never know not doing your best.”
As long as you always do your best you are capable of at that moment in your life, no one can ask or expect any more. Not even yourself. And even when you don’t, your worst moments will not define you.
“Time. You’re either for it or against it. Do what you want to do and with the people you love. Why live a life diluted?”
Embrace your age
“Old is for old people. If you believe the numbers, they you’re old. If you don’t believe the numbers and believe in your spirit, then you’re ageless.”
I’ve never understood why people get so hung up on age. I’m 54 and I’m really okay with it. In fact, it annoys me when someone says, “I’m 29” (when they’re 39 or 49). Or brag that they’re younger than someone else like it’s some kind of achievement. I don’t get it. Why? Who wants to be 29 again? We were all born at our own perfect time. So just stop it with the age thing cuz I’m not listening.
Another thought from The Legacy Letters. “…being old, hell, that’s your choice.” And I’m not choosing it. I would catch my 90-something grandmother climbing up on the counter to reach the top shelf. She never chose old. Be my like my grandma.
Money and success
“Money. Too much can make you happily unhappy. Too little can make you habitually unhappy.”
Love where he talks about why writing is better than speaking. Essentially, mouth words carry air and written words carry weight. Writing is a way to rediscover and uncover your own truth.
“It is godawful fierce work to explore your jungle of thoughts and emotions, to work your way through the tangle of your half lies and partial truths, to eventually track do your most honest thoughts, capture them intact, and finally bring them to paper.”
“Don’t teach your children to fear being honest with you. They should be able to talk to you about anything or ask for your help at any time.”
Here was another moment when some of those critical thoughts escaped the box I put them in. How can he be providing parenting advice when he’s not living his own words. But still including because it’s great advice.
“You are the doodle in the margin.”
One of my favorite lines.
“Wake up. Be thankful.”
Life really is as simple as that.
Again, these are just a few of my favorite lines from The Legacy Letters. Enjoy!