Dear Mom and Dad: A Letter About Family, Memory, and the America We Once Knew

Liveright: Norton. Feb. 2024. 240p. ISBN 9781324093480. spiral. $27.99. MEMOIR
Davis, the 71-year-old daughter of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, pens a healing letter to her late parents. She attempts to look differently at the dysfunctional life they lived together. Her reflections show she believed that her mother was always displeased with her, and later, that her parents were an “island of two,” who would have been fine together without her or her younger brother, Ron. But early home movies and walks in her childhood California neighborhood stir up loving memories. She acknowledges that her father’s inattentiveness could have been modeled on his father. She also understands that her mother felt abandoned by her own mother. Davis also shares her discoveries and reflections of her father’s loss of his infant daughter with his previous wife, actress Jane Wyman; the 1981 attempted assassination; her thoughts on of some of his political views and his mishandling of the AIDS crisis; his Alzheimer’s disease; and her regret about writing an earlier tell-all memoir.
VERDICT This book about Davis’s relationship with her parents, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, unpacks a lot. Her eloquent writing and reassessment of her family bonds will keep readers intrigued.
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