Book review: Napkin Notes

by Garth Callaghan

★★★★

It’s the napkin notes guy! Maybe you’ve seen traces of him on the internet, from www.napkinnotesdad.com. Garth has been fighting cancer for years and has been writing encouraging lunch notes on napkins to his daughter for even longer. Well, now he has a book.

I screwed up, waiting until now and then posting a review on Christmas Eve, because this would make a wonderful gift. It’s sentimental, not focusing so much on the notes themselves as the story of a father’s love. It’s a wake-up call to share your feelings with those you care about.

The focus of Garth’s notes is always on his beloved daughter Emma, which at first made me feel a little uncomfortable. Where does Mr. Napkin Notes’ wife fit in? And does the daughter really want all this public attention? But as I read on, I started to relax, since the women in his life seemed okay with the focus. In fact, as Emma grew older she began to write the occasional note back to her father as he fought against cancer. Here’s an example:

An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So, when life is dragging you back, it means it’s going to launch you into something awesome.

That note was written just this year, and what Emma meant I can’t know for sure, but I have to think this publication is part of the story. It’s not the typical book I review on The Dubious Disciple; Garth is a long-time Catholic who writes a little about how powerful it felt going into surgery knowing that people were praying for him, but that’s about the extent of his religious side. Rather, it’s all about love and connecting with those you love.

And isn’t that life’s purpose?

HarperOne, © 2014, 247 pages

ISBN: 978-0-06-236334-2

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