Letters to Ethan: A Grandfather's Legacy of Life & Love
By Tom McQueen
Published 2010, Seraphina Press
Paperback, 152 pages
Endorsed by ESPN’s Dick Vitale and legendary coach Lou Holtz with a forward by Rudy Ruettiger of the classic film “Rudy,” “Letters to Ethan” is a compilation of letters that McQueen wrote to his young grandson regarding a variety of life lessons from love and friendship to death and conflict. Wishing his own grandparent’s had left behind a remnant of their lives and thoughts, McQueen began writing letters to his son and has continued the tradition with notes to his grandson. In conjunction with “Letters to Ethan,” McQueen has helped launch the Legacy Nation campaign, a project where parents and grandparents can upload their own letters to their children on the campaign website, some of which he will compile for a second book.Right from the beginning, I found the seriousness to which the author, Tom McQueen, approaches his role as a grandfather to his grandson, Ethan, as both endearing and worthy of my respect. What he is attempting to do with the letters found in this book is a commendable goal that not many grandparents may go through the trouble to achieve. Each "chapter" of the book is actually a four-to-six page letter and headed by a quotation that applies to the topic of the letter. Each of the letters address a specific topic, such as Heroism, Risk, Integrity, Love, and Imagination, to name a few. Some of the letters also include excerpts from other sources that McQueen finds wisdom in, such as poetry or short stories like the famous story "Footprints in the Sand." Many of the letters make references to sports and sports imagery, such as citing Wayne Gretsky's accomplishments, which is certainly appropriate for most boys. The letters are also peppered with poignant memories of McQueen's and bits of history, such as the story of George Washington Carver.
It becomes apparent in the first letter that this book has a decidedly Roman Catholic slant, and many of the letters include Catholic doctrine teachings. If the reader does not prescribe to Roman Catholicism, this can be a major obstacle to enjoying this book. The other thing that bugs me throughout the text is that I can not figure out at what age the author intended his grandson to read these letters. Some of the topics are rather mature, and they would not be appropriate for a boy that is too young to receive the advice given in the letter, no matter how well-meaning it is. I also could not decipher if McQueen's grandson, Ethan, was supposed to read these letters while his grandfather was still alive or if they were meant for after he passed - again, this would make sense if the appropriate age were given for each letter.
If I ignore the obvious bias in the letters, I found much of the advice given to be relevant and useful wisdom for a young man - or woman - attaining to adulthood.
The Cover: I think the cover is quite appropriate for the content of the book - a grandfather with his grandson.
First Line: "If you could read just one book with the potential to positively impact the lives of your children and grandchildren, this is the book."
This is certainly a promising introduction to the book, and it makes me hopeful and optimistic that I will enjoy the book.
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*