Letters For Emily by Camron Wright | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Letters For Emily

Letters For Emily

4.5 30
by Camron Wright

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You are so young. You may wonder what an old man like me could teach? I wonder as well. I certainly don't claim to know all the answers. I'm barely figuring out the questions...Life has a strange way of repeating itself and I want my experience to help you...My hope is that you'll consider my words and remember my heart.
Harry Whitney is dying. He has


You are so young. You may wonder what an old man like me could teach? I wonder as well. I certainly don't claim to know all the answers. I'm barely figuring out the questions...Life has a strange way of repeating itself and I want my experience to help you...My hope is that you'll consider my words and remember my heart.
Harry Whitney is dying. He has Alzheimer's disease, and he knows his "good" time is dwindling. So he compiles a book of poems for his favorite granddaughter, Emily, hoping that his words of hard-won wisdom will heal the old wounds that are tearing his family apart. But Harry's poems contain much more than meets the eye — clues and riddles that lead to an extraordinary cache of letters and a promise of hidden gold. As Emily and her family uncover Harry's secrets one by one, they learn unforgettable lessons about romance, forgiveness and hope that might hold them all together.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Mary Higgins Clark Clever, heartwarming, and heartfelt, Letters for Emily is a novel every member of the family should read. I love it!

The Boston Herald [A] heartwarmer in the tradition of Mitch Albom's...Tuesdays with Morrie.

Richard Paul Evans, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Promise An exceptional story, gleaming with goodness and hope.

Publishers Weekly
In this tearjerker of a debut novel, author Wright delves into a family's struggle with a dying parent's mental illness, a marriage breakup and a mysterious legacy left for a seven-year-old granddaughter. Widower Harry Whitney is old and dying. Alzheimer's disease is taking its toll, and he wants only two things to die with dignity and to be remembered as the good man he once was, not as the drooling, cranky old coot he is becoming. His children are estranged, their marriages on the rocks, and his only true friend is his granddaughter, Emily. After Harry dies, his daughter-in-law, Laura, finds three identical homemade books filled with Harry's poems and stories. As she and Emily discover, each poem and story contains a secret, coded password linked to computer files. The files each hold a special letter to Emily confessions, revelations, advice, even a hint of hidden gold. After Harry's son and daughter read the letters, too, they begin to realize that Harry was a pretty amazing father after all. Wright's word picture of old Harry slowly dying and knowing it is powerful and gripping, as are his vivid portrayals of nursing homes, adult children making tough decisions for elderly parents and the insensitivity of the medicare system. His melodramatic characterizations of husbands and wives involved in divorce proceedings are less successful, but Harry's letters to Emily are eloquent enough to make this a worthwhile read overall. 12-city author tour. Agent, Dorian Karchmar. (Jan.) Forecast: Originally self-published, this novel was a regional bestseller in Utah. It lacks a seasonal hook, and so may not catch on as easily as its close cousin, The Christmas Box, but it is otherwise equipped with all the key trappings of grassroots success including a blurb from Mary Higgins Clark and poems by Wright's grandfather, the inspiration for the book. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Before losing his mind to Alzheimer's, Harry Whitney composes a book of poems for his favorite granddaughter that he hopes will heal the entire family. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A grandfather's legacy to his troubled family.

Product Details

Gallery Books
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0.52(w) x 5.00(h) x 8.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My bed is frigid and the room dark. I've placed many blankets on my bed, but they don't stop the cold Wasatch wind that penetrates to my bones. I stare through the window at my snow-covered plants and realize I will miss my garden. I will miss the way the carrots emerge from seeds not much bigger than dust. I will miss thinning beets in the late spring. I will miss digging for new potatoes in the fall. I will miss harvesting buckets of zucchini for unsuspecting neighbors who will then have no idea what to do with them; and I will even miss watching the plants turn brown and die each year as winter sets in.

My garden has taught me that every living thing must die. I have watched it happen now for scores of years — I only wish I could have a few more summers in my garden with Emily.

I have other grandchildren, and I don't mean to play favorites, but the others live far away and seldom visit. Emily visits with her mother every Friday. Though our ages are more than seven decades apart, Emily and I are best friends.

My name is Harry, a laughable name for a man who's been completely bald most of his life. But, hairy or not, it's my name nonetheless. It was my father's name before me, and his father's before him. I wish I could say it was a name I passed on to my own son. I can't. When he was born and it came time to give him a name, we chose Bob instead. He rarely visits; he never writes. Now, on occasion, I wish I'd named him Harry as well.

Strangely, I'm not bitter about what is happening to me. Why should I be? I am no better than anyone else. I am no wiser, no stronger, and no smarter. (Okay, I am smarter than ol' man Ross who lives next door but that's beside the point.) So then, why not me?

I hope to go quickly so I'll be remembered as Grandpa Harry and not as the person I'm becoming. I fear I'll be remembered as a contemptible, cranky old man and that thought sickens me. The fact is, I'm losing my mind. I have Alzheimer's — an insidious disease that causes the nerve cells in the brain to degenerate. As it works its havoc, the brain shrinks and wastes away — dementia sets in, causing disorientation and confusion. There is no cure, no way to slow its determined progression.

This disease is a thief. It begins with short spells of forgetfulness, but before it's finished, it steals everything. It takes your favorite color, the smell of your favorite food, the night of your first kiss, your love of golf. Droplets of shimmering water cleansing the earth during an invigorating spring shower simply become rain. Mammoth snowflakes blanketing the ground in white at the onset of winter's first storm merely seem cold. Your heart beats, your lungs suck in air, your eyes see images, but inside you are dead. Inside your spirit is gone. I say it is an insidious disease because in the end, it steals your existence — even your very soul. In the end I will forget Emily.

The disease is progressing, and even now people are beginning to laugh. I do not hate them for it; they laugh with good reason. I would laugh as well at the stupid things I do. Two days ago I peed in the driveway in my front yard. I had to go and at the time it seemed like a great spot. A week before, I woke up in the middle of the night, walked into the kitchen, and tried to gargle with the dishwashing liquid that is kept in the cupboard beneath the sink. I thought I was in the bathroom, and the green liquid was the same color as my mouthwash. I get nervous. I get scared, and I cry; I cry like a baby over the most ridiculous things. During my life, I've seldom cried.

There are times when I can still think clearly, but each day I feel my good time fading — my existence getting shorter. During my good spells, now just an hour or two a day, I sit at my desk and I write. I crouch over the keyboard on my computer and I punch the keys wildly. It's an older computer, but it serves its purpose well. It's the best gift Bob has given me in years. It's an amazing machine and every time I use it, I marvel at how it captures my words. Younger people who have grown up with computers around them don't appreciate the truly miraculous machines they are. They create magic.

I'm not a good writer, but I've loved writing stories and poems all of my life. Writing always made me feel immortal — as if I were creating an extension of my life that nothing could destroy. It was exhilarating.

I no longer write for excitement. There are times when my back aches and my eyes blur, and I can't get my fingers to hit the right keys, but I continue. I write now for Emily. She is just seven years old. I doubt she'll remember my face; I doubt she'll remember the crooked fingers on my wrinkled hands or the age spots on my skin or my shiny, bald head. But hopefully, by some miracle, she will read my stories and my poems and she'll remember my heart, and consider me as her friend. That is my deepest desire.

At times I feel bad that I'm not writing to my other grandchildren, but I hardly know them. While they visit every Christmas, they don't stay long. They are courteous, but they treat me like a stranger. It's not their fault. I'm not angry with them, and I hope they aren't angry with me.

My worst fear is that before I finish, I will slip completely into the grasp of the terrible monster, never to return. If this happens, my prayer would be that those around me might forget — but they will not forget — and then, worse than being forgotten, I will be remembered as a different person than I truly am. I will be despised.

I vow not to let this happen, so during my good times, I write — I write for Emily.

Copyright © 2001 by Camron Wright

What People are saying about this

Mary Higgins Clark
Clever, heartwarming, and heartfelt, Letters for Emily is a novel every member of the family should read. I love it!
Amanda Dickson
I absolutely loved it! Telling the story through the poems, the passwords, and the letters was enthralling, wonderful, and unique. A warm, inspirational story, which leaves you feeling more grateful for love and family. Chills. Tears. Fabulous!
Richard Paul Evans
An exceptional story, gleaming with goodness and hope.

Meet the Author

Camron Wright is a graduate of Brigham Young University. Letters for Emily, his first novel, was inspired by the writings of his late grandfather. He lives with his family near Salt Lake City. Visit his website at www.lettersforemily.com.

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