Dear Dana: That time I went crazy and wrote all 580 of my Facebook friends a handwritten letter by Amy Weinland Daughters
Expected Release Date: May 17, 2022
For people who like to see the good in others, for a real story about human connection, for a story that makes you feel inspired and motivated
When Amy Daughters reconnected with her old pal Dana on Facebook, she had no idea how it would change her life. Though the two women hadn’t had any contact in thirty years, it didn’t take them long to catch up—and when Amy learned that Dana’s son Parker was doing a second stint at St. Jude battling cancer, she was suddenly inspired to begin writing the pair weekly letters.
When Parker died, Amy—not knowing what else to do—continued to write Dana. Eventually, Dana wrote back, and the two became pen pals, sharing things through the mail that they had never shared before. The richness of the experience left Amy wondering something: If my life could be so changed by someone I considered “just a Facebook friend,” what would happen if I wrote all my Facebook friends a letter?
A whopping 580 handwritten letters later Amy’s life, and most of all her heart, would never, ever, be the same again. As it turned out, there were actual individuals living very real lives behind each social media profile, and she was beautifully connected to each of those extraordinary, flawed people for a specific reason. They loved her, and she loved them. And nothing—not politics, beliefs, or lifestyle—could separate them.
Yes, 580 two page front and back letters is a lot. And that was the goal. What was also a lot were the often emotional responses Amy received back from folks.
As you might imagine, there are snippets of letters from the 580 with the stories behind them when there is something especially notable about it, such as a person important to Amy, a difficult letter to write, or a response that provoked thought. I’d guess there are maybe 50ish letters included this way, which might not seem much, but it is a lot!
It definitely felt like a lot. At times they started to feel repetitive and a bit tedious to read about because of how similar they were. That actually mirrors Amy’s experiences as she gets worn out by so much heartfelt writing. Several themes were really hammered home, and particularly that of how a small way of reaching out was incredibly touching for so many of the people Amy wrote to. It made me think of that adage “No one will wave, but everyone will wave back.”
The main way it’s broken up is by interspersing the letters with the central story around Dana, a woman who Amy was friend with at a summer camp long ago, and her grief around her son’s relapsing illness. This was touching and sad and hopeful and painful in a lot of ways, but if you feel like a dose of human goodness, this is a great way to do it.
There’s also a focus on spirituality and Amy’s strength drawn from God. I’m not very spiritual, but I enjoyed hearing how she connected in those ways, and it was very accessible and warm.
And yes… I thought many times during it about doing this myself. 🤣 But… maybe just a postcard instead of a letter. ✌️
Thanks to NetGalley and She Writes Press for a free advanced copy. This is my honest review!