To Valerie, with Love, Jenny

Fiction - Fantasy - General
258 Pages
Reviewed on 10/02/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jessica Barbosa for Readers' Favorite

To Valerie, with Love, Jenny by Debbie Parker centers around cheeky Valerie Negron, the third daughter of Annie and Frank Negron. Valerie had been the youngest child of the Negron family for fourteen years, but this is all about to change when her parents surprise her with an unexpected announcement: a fourth Negron child is on the way! Valerie is not impressed with the news of a new sibling, but time passes and eventually, she grows used to being Jenny’s older sister. Jenny is born with Down syndrome and Valerie grows to understand how special her little sister is. However, an unforeseen tragedy requires Valerie to grow up faster and step up to the responsibility. Her relationships with the people around her change, some grow stronger, while other bonds break. In the future, an accident will force Valerie to relive an old fear and divine intervention will show her that, even as an adult, she still has a lot left to learn about love and life.

To Valerie, with Love, Jenny is a story of miracles, forgiveness, redemption, and a realization that even when you’re an adult with a husband and kids, there are still lessons to be learned about love, life, and family. Valerie grows up quickly because of unforeseen circumstances that leave her caring for her younger sister, Jenny. Although she did well in raising her youngest with the support of her remaining family, she still makes mistakes along the way and nearly severs the bond between her and her older sister, Delores. Debbie Parker has done an amazing job of pushing the story along, from when Valerie was in her teens to her life as an adult. Valerie's relationship with her family and friends, when they aren't fighting, is enviable. The easy banter and oftentimes funny quips between the Negron family, their relatives, in-laws, and friends flow naturally throughout the story. I love how tight-knit the characters are and how they unfailingly supported each other throughout the various tragedies and challenges they faced.

Parker has also done a wonderful job with Jenny’s character. I felt she was the true glue that held everything together in the end. I was glad that we were able to hear Jenny’s side of the story too. I got to see her point of view and I enjoyed reading about her lecturing Valerie; she is as brave and as unapologetic as her older sister and I was just so proud of her throughout the entire book. Overall, I found this book to be a touching, unforgettable story with equally unforgettable and wonderful characters. Great job!

Trisha Dawn

Debbie Parker’s To Valerie, with Love, Jenny is about the strong bond between sisters despite their differences. When Valerie was fourteen years old, her parents revealed that they were having another baby. Opposed to the idea of another sibling, Valerie expressed her distaste and even suggested that they get an abortion. However, her parents only reprimanded her for being disrespectful about the decision they had made so Valerie had no choice but to accept it. Time passed and Jenny, the youngest daughter of the family, was born. She was born with Down Syndrome which Valerie was not familiar with. Slowly learning about Jenny’s special needs, Valerie came to love her sister with all her heart. However, due to unforeseen events, Valerie lost all respect she had for her older sister, Didi, and decided to raise Jenny on her own, of course with the help and guidance of her oldest sister Priscilla, her brothers-in-law, and her relatives. After seventeen years passed, Didi tried to make it up to Valerie, but her sister was still holding on to her anger from the past. One day, an unfortunate accident puts Jenny’s and Didi’s lives in danger. Valerie is suddenly faced with a devastating reality and a surprising consequence. Will Valerie finally learn to let go of the negativity in her heart, accept all that has happened, and forgive the person who had hurt her the most?

To Valerie, with Love, Jenny by Debbie Parker shows the struggles of a family that experienced an unexpected tragedy. It is a fresh and well-written book filled with valuable lessons regarding love, letting go, and forgiveness. I personally felt Valerie acted in a bratty manner. I did understand that she was still young and the events leading up to the accident were affecting her thoughts about everything including her sister, Didi, but I still felt like she could have handled everything better. This gives you an insight into how well Parker has written and shaped her characters for them to affect me so much even when I have finished the book. Valerie is a unique and feisty character and I felt so relieved when she finally learned to open her heart to the people she pushed away. I loved her character development; it was steady and it took her a long time to finally let go and learn to love her sister again without a shadow hanging over them. I also loved the rest of the characters for the support they provided Valerie and the advice they gave her. The story wouldn’t be as amazing as it was without the reliable brothers-in-law, selfless sisters, caring relatives, and supportive friends. Jenny, of course, played the biggest part in teaching Valerie the lesson of forgiveness and letting go. This story is truly about strong family bonds and facing your own fears and mistakes head-on. It is a story of redemption, acceptance, and love. Overall, the story has evoked such strong feelings in me. Well done!

Gobi Jane

To Valerie, with Love, Jenny by Debbie Parker is a story with an eerie feel that grips the reader strongly from the first page. Valerie is fourteen when she discovers that her mom is pregnant and she isn’t happy about it. Her parents are old and she doesn’t see why they should have another baby. But she eventually accepts it and welcomes her baby sister, Jenny, born with Down Syndrome. A car accident takes her parents away and Valerie is left alone to raise Jenny. Years later, Jenny gets into danger and while wanting to save her sister, Valerie unlocks a secret door into her soul that she never knew existed and to a gift she never knew she had. The connection with her sister deepens and her life transforms in a way she never expected.

This is the story of a bond between two sisters and the power of love. The supernatural dimension of the narrative feels real and translates the hidden power of love. Valerie’s journey is very beautiful and I loved how her contact with her sister allows her to understand, even slowly, who she really is. Debbie Parker writes from the heart and crafts a story that will appeal to the humanity of readers. The use of the epistolary style was great. The drama, the awesome dialogues, and the terrific descriptions are just a few of the elements that provide depth to this narrative. To Valerie, with Love, Jenny is an inspiring story that will make readers look at people with conditions differently. It is a very emotional story that is equally entertaining.