The Sunshine Girl: A Mother’s Love Story To Her Daughter

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In this quaint memoir, Debra Harder details her daughter’s life and her deep admiration and love for her by weaving together her own words and sentiments with those of her daughter’s. The Sunshine Girl: A Mother’s Love Story to Her Daughter is laced with poems and paintings Janet created over a lifetime. Though her years were cut much too short by the devasting illness known as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, her spirit shines on through this heartfelt memoir. Many of Janet’s poems explore topics that are ever present in humanity: faith; love; loss; acceptance; betrayal; and vulnerability. She expresses her greatest hopes and deepest fears through her genuine words, as well as her unique illustrations. A full 10 years before her life neared its end in November of 2011, she painted “The Edge of my Meadow,” which was meant by Janet to be a representation of “what heaven would be” with “birch trees in meadow grass” and “a trail back home,” according to her beloved Mom. Though Janet questioned the existence of God throughout her life here on earth, she hadn’t, by the end of her young life, lost full sight of the possibility of the afterlife.

As a mother who deeply loved, and continues to love, her daughter, the author candidly states that “while cancer may threaten our physical lives, and of those we love, it cannot take our spirits, hopes, our will to fulfill what we were destined to do, or the footprints we leave behind.” By sharing Janet’s story, she is doing just that, allowing her footprints to be left behind for other’s to find.

Harder allows her daughter’s kind, thoughtful, and creative self to live on through the poems and paintings of this book! She does a beautiful job of sprinkling her memoir with her own thoughts and beliefs about her daughter’s existence, while not taking away from the integrity and authenticity of Janet’s artful work. The author uses her words as points of transition and clarity, rather than distraction and ubiquity. It’s clear that her ultimate goal is to honor her daughter in the most real way and, secondarily, to bring awareness to the battle of cancer and all it entails. The poems and illustrations Janet created are filled with emotion, reflection, and contemplation. Some of them are dark, unveiling her feelings of loneliness and vulnerability; while others are more illuminating, hopeful, and enlightening. One of her last, in this collection, entitled “Argument for Love” is clearly one of her best. It’s full of paradoxes and is masterfully written. Many of her poems are free verse, but the ones that speak loudest are the more structured ones with greater clarity and form. Nearly all of them are imaginative! This memoir is relatively short, as well, making it perfect for a rainy day!


Reviewed By:

Author Debra Harder
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 70 pages
Publisher WestBow Press
Publish Date 2018-11-26
ISBN 9781973643548
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue June 2019
Category Poetry & Short Stories
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