When he discovered that he had only six months to live, thirty-year-old Kevin Bates picked up his pen and wrote The Manual- advice for his five-year-old daughter, Lois, to live by, laugh at, and follow from twelve until thirty. Seven years later, when Lois is given The Manual, she can barely bring herself to read her father’s words, the pain of his loss is still so raw. Yet soon Kevin’s advice is guiding her through every stage of life from teen angst to career arcs, to knowing when she’s at long last met “the one.” While The Manual can never substitute for having Kevin back, the words left behind become Lois’s steady support through all life’s ups and downs, and prove invaluable to unlocking the key to happiness.
On the eve of her 12th birthday, Lois’ aunt Philomena visits her to give her a very special present- a present from her dead father. Running up to her room she reads The Manual in private, explicitly following the directions to only read the entry for her birthday that year. While the temptation would be to sit and absorb every page her father has written, she knows that if she does that this gift will be over. She wants her father to be a part of her for a long, long time…so she waits.
Scattered with a miscellaneous section of advice from things like job interviews, first kisses, and possible new siblings, Lois has a manual for just about anything that happens in life. She starts to feel like her father is the perfect dad and man and no one else can live up to him. Her happiness is tied to The Manual and living it out as her father thinks her life is going. Without The Manual and her father’s “presence” in her life, she doesn’t feel like her life has meaning.
With the potential to become a cheesy, sappy book I was glad to see the author did not take it in this direction. Kevin Bate’s advice to his daughter was matter-of-fact and relevant to what she would be encountering at various stages of growing up. It was heart warming- not heart wrenching, which definitely moved it up a notch in my opinion.
What advice would you give to your child that would help him/her with life’s trials?