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Review: ‘The Reading Promise’ by Alice Ozma

by Kim on May 9, 2012 · 17 comments

Post image for Review: ‘The Reading Promise’ by Alice Ozma

Title: The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared
Author: Alice Ozma
Genre: Memoir
Year: 2011
Acquired: Bought
Rating: ★★★★☆

One Sentence Summary: In fourth grade, Alice Ozma and her father made a promise to read together every night for 100 nights; 3,218 nights later, The Streak finally ended.

One Sentence Review: Although The Reading Promise is, ostensibly, a memoir about books, it’s really more of of a series of essays about how a daughter and her father bonded over a shared love of reading.

Long Review: When Alice Ozma was nine years old, she and her father made a promise to read together every night for 100 nights. At the end of 100 nights, curious to see how far their could push their project, they decided to try for 1,000 nights. A thousand nights turned into 2,000, then 3,000, and eventually 3,218 nights, ending The Streak the day Ozma moved into her dorm to start her freshman year of college. The Reading Promise is the story of The Streak, but also a story about a father and a daughter and their shared bond over books.

For a memoir about reading, books are pretty absent from The Reading Promise. This isn’t a memoir about what Ozma learned in the books she and her father, a single dad and elementary school librarian, read together. There are lessons from books and reflections about what certain books meant to each of them over time, but that’s not really the focus of the memoir. Instead, the memoir focuses on Ozma’s relationship with her father, a how The Streak helped bring them together.

Although Ozma was only 22 years old when The Reading Promise was published, I think she writes with a much more mature sense of self than your average recent college graduate (and I say that as a relatively-recent college grad myself). There are some really touching moments when Ozma looks back at moments when her behavior, understandable for a teenager, was deeply hurtful to her father or changed their relationship in a significant way. It takes a lot to find those moments and learn to accept them, so I’m glad Ozma didn’t shy away from sharing that.

I was charmed by this book. I even cried when Ozma wrote about the last night of The Streak, trying to find a quiet place in her freshman dorm to read together for the last time, because it reminded me so vividly of the moment my parents dropped me off for college. We didn’t read together, but there was this sense of irrevocable change coming that Ozma captures in her essay. The Reading Promise is a lovely ode, both to reading and to reading together, that I’m glad to have read myself.

Other Reviews: Book Chase | My Cozy Book Nook | A Literary Odyssey |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather May 9, 2012 at 6:56 am

This sounds absolutely lovely. And my library has it! I’ll be getting my hands on it soon.

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Kim May 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

It was lovely. That’s the perfect word for this book.

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Jeane May 9, 2012 at 7:25 am

It sounds like a touching book. And one that for once, will feed my love of books without adding significantly to the tbr pile!

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Kim May 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

That’s a good point — without mentioning all the books they read, there’s not temptation to read more of them!

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bermudaonion (Kathy) May 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Oh my gosh, I think I would cry reading about them reading in her dorm room too. This sounds like a special book.

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Kim May 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I was sitting at work eating lunch during that chapter, crying while I ate my salad. It was silly :)

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Amy May 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm

This book sounds wonderful. I think it’s so sweet that she and her dad read together at night…even during those tennegae years! I’m interested in reading about the things she learned as a result of The Streak, the moments she didn’t shy away from talking about.

This is a fantastic review!

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Kim May 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I do too. My mom read with us for a long time, but I was able to read to myself pretty early. The challenges they had when she got older were fun to read about.

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Kailana May 10, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I must check this book out! I looked before and the library didn’t have it, but they might now.

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Kim May 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I’d forgotten about this one until I found it at a used bookstore, but I’m glad it came back on my radar. I hope you can find it!

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Jennygirl May 11, 2012 at 8:34 am

I just know this book will have me tearing up because one could not help reflecting on their own memories growing up. Interesting idea for a memoir/book. Thanks Kim.

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Kim May 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Yes, that’s very true — it’s an emotional book, especially if you had a parent who used to read with you.

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Andi May 11, 2012 at 9:45 am

And another one goes on my Goodreads wishlist. This sounds like just the thing.

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Kim May 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm

It was lovely. It wasn’t my favorite memoir about reading, but I did think it was a sweet book.

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Esme May 12, 2012 at 8:34 am

What a great present from her father.

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Kim May 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm

It really was. It was nice to read about how they made that commitment to each other.

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Athira May 16, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I’ve heard so much about this one! I really hope to read it some time. Glad that you enjoyed it!

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