Emotional journey: Widowed father tells his story

THIS is not a how-to book about raising daughters - though there is much to be learned here. What My Daughters Taught Me is a deeply-felt, emotional family journey told by a single father.

Author Joe Wakim's soulmate Nadia was killed by cancer in 2003, leaving him with three girls to raise.

With honesty, courage, imagination, self-deprecation and humour, Wakim tells of his efforts to be mother and father to the girls, while remaining their friend and keeping their family culture strong.

Fighting against gender and cultural stereotypes all the way, he deals with grief, community expectations and guilt, while encountering a daily slew of challenges which will be familiar to many parents.

He deals with the tyranny of the television (which he dubs "His Majesty"), the distraction of devices ("serial text offenders"), the dance lessons, the sanitary pad shopping experience, the medical dramas, the parties, the fashions and the formals, the first jobs and the driving lessons.

Nadia's memory is always there with him, manifesting several times in Wakim's occasionally filmic storytelling to help him sort through issues. These are moving moments, as are those when he recalls her last days.

The wonderful friendship that Wakim engenders with his daughters reaches a timely and mutually frank maturity when the girls begin dating.

Dad expresses his fears about other drivers at night, and strangers trying to spike their drinks. His middle daughter archly responds: "You think we're that naive? I've raised you better than that, Joe Wakim."

Topics:  book review daughters fatherhood

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