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Reviewed by Lexie Fox for Readers' Favorite
Dear Dana by Amy Daughters follows the author as she connects with an old friend named Dana on Facebook. As Dana’s life takes a turn for the unimaginably heart-breaking, Amy decides to make their correspondence analog by sending handwritten letters. Inspired by the deeper understanding of Dana that comes from being penpals, Amy decides to write a handwritten letter to all 580 of her Facebook friends to try to learn about the real lives taking place behind the curated posts and profile pictures. This book immediately establishes itself as one of those true stories that the reader could do for themselves as all Amy needed to begin her journey was a Facebook account and a pile of stationery. But there’s something in the author’s insight and determination to learn about the people in her life that is beyond what a regular person would be capable of that enhances the story deeply.
The journey undertaken throughout Dear Dana is wonderfully moving both in its core concept and its excellent depiction as Amy Daughters’ prose takes us on the rollercoaster of reconnecting with a lost friend, sharing their grief, and throwing open the doors on the lives of the people around you. There is a wonderful word that I discovered a few years ago which captures the spirit of this work very aptly; 'sonder.' It is a noun referring to the profound feeling of realization that comes with the understanding that every single person in this world is living a life as complex and vivid as your own, even though to you they are strangers in the street. Dear Dana is a powerful reminder to look closer at the people around you and to appreciate the things that you gain from making those connections with others.