Book Review: If I’d Known Then, Women in Their 20s and 30s Write Letters to Their Younger Selves

Have you ever wished you could write a letter to yourself when you were younger to give yourself hope or encouragement to get through a difficult time? That’s what the 35 women did who appear in If I’d Know Then, Women in Their 20s and 30s Write Letters to Their Younger Selves by Ellyn Spragins.

Readers will recognize many of the writers as well as receive introductions to remarkable women they may not have heard of before. The letters are all heartfelt, with the authors talking directly to the young girls they once were. It’s a wonderful reminder that no matter how famous or wealthy or popular someone is, we all share many of the same insecurities, doubts, fears and self-imposed limitations.

This book is part of the What I Know Now series, and I think it’s a great addition for younger readers. I was particularly struck by the story of  Mindy Lam, who was labeled an unlucky child when she was born in China and treated harshly during her childhood. She overcame incredible hurdles to come this country, learn to speak English and find a way to support herself before stumbling upon an idea for creating jewelry that has made her successful beyond her imagining. All the stories are inspiring.

Moms in a mother-daughter book club can write letters to their younger selves as a meeting activity to inspire discussion. And girls could also think about issues they’re dealing with now that they may see differently in a few years.

I believe girls aged 13 and up would enjoy reading If I’d Known Then.

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