Publication Date: 21st April, 2017
“There are going to be so many things I wish I could’ve told you in person, Poppy. I won’t get the chance to do that, so perhaps this is my only way…”
It’s Poppy Kinsey’s birthday.
She should be blowing out candles and opening presents – but hers falls on the type of heart-wrenching, agonising anniversary she would far rather forget.
The worst day of them all. The day her mother died.
But this year is special because the person she misses most in the world has left her a set of letters, one for each of her next ten birthdays.
As Poppy opens them year by year, she discovers that no matter how tough life gets, her mum will always be by her side, guiding her along the way.
I was provided an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Ten Birthdays is the story of Poppy Kinsey’s life spanning from the age of fifteen to twenty five, but only of her ten birthdays. Her mother had passed away when she was fourteen I think but she had still wanted to be a part of Poppy’s life so she wrote her ten letters to be opened each year on her birthday from fifteen to twenty five years.
The format of this book, of showing one day for ten years instead of the entire year, is nothing new. But the letter aspect made this book unique and different from books like One Day and November 9 which have a similar writing style. I loved how each letter was a mix of a story from her mother’s life as well as advice for her daughter. It’s such a lovely way to be a part of her daughter’s life and I found it very sweet.
Poppy was such a wonderful character and she felt so, so real. Though the book is told in third person, it manages to depict her mind and her thoughts really well. Her internal struggles were so relateable. She went from a gawky teenager to a more confident woman and I loved seeing her transform and come into her own.
We are introduced to Poppy’s two best friends, Freya and Mark in the first chapter and every year on her birthday, we meet one or both of them again. It was nice to see them change as well. Freya is the fun best friend that everyone has and I loved that she remained crazy and kooky ten years on. Mark was more serious and him and Poppy had such a sweet friendship. He gave her the same gift every year, a set of colour pencils, because he loved her art. That was so cute and I just loved him!
Friendship is an important theme in this story but it also shows how sometimes people just lose touch because they live far away or they have just changed. At the same time, it also shows how easy it is to reconnect with friends from long ago. A lot of books don’t show mundane things like this so I really liked that!
After losing her mother, Poppy is obviously quite sad but it makes her a lot closer to her father. Her father remarries and she happily accepts her new stepmother who made her father immensely happy. There was no drama there either, because she knew that her stepmother wasn’t going to replace her mother, and she wanted her father to be happy.
Coming back to Poppy, she’s one of the best characters I think I have ever read because she is just so normal. In all the books, the main characters have so much going on in their lives but Poppy was just normal. She had a normal job at a cafe, she didn’t go to college, she went out often enough – but there was nothing extraordinary about her which made this book different from others. Her best friends have a lot going on in their lives but Poppy’s life is less exciting. She’s always there for her friends though, even if they aren’t always there when she needs them. It feels like this is a book more about the side character in someone else’s story and so this mundane-ness made me love it a lot more!
Overall, this is wonderfully written, sweet story about a normal girl’s life. The fact that it’s not crazy makes it very special and I absolutely loved it. It’s short, easy to read and a lot of fun. I highly recommend!