REVIEW: Dear Prudence: Liberating Lessons from Slate.com’s Beloved Advice Column by Daniel M. Lavery
Based on the long-running Slate advice column, a collection of the most eye-opening, illuminating, and provocative installments during Daniel M. Lavery’s tenure as the titular Prudence.
Every week, millions of readers visit Slate for the irresistible “Dear Prudence,” an advice column that promises a healthy dose of reality and good humor alongside its indispensable suggestions and life lessons. The ever-hilarious and insightful Danny Lavery was one of “Dear Prudence”’s most beloved columnists, and he recounts his time as Prudie in this side-splitting, candid collection—complete with new commentary and exclusive stories—drawing out the broader themes of his informative, unfailingly illuminating guidance.
From guilt and blame (“Am I in the Wrong Here?”) to downright confusion (“Maybe This Is All a Misunderstanding”), from recently discovered wrenches-in-the-machine (“The Other Shoe Just Dropped”) to the travails of parenthood (“My Kids Are Growing Up. Can Someone Please Stop This?”), Dear Prudence isn’t afraid to go the extra mile in its search for the much-needed corrective, gentle reminder, or tough love. This is the go-to guide for anyone who’s just trying to figure it all out—with a helpful nudge.
Dear Mr. Lavery,
Yes, I admit it. I love to read the Dear Prudence letters along with Dear Abby and Dear Miss Manners and Dear Mr Manners. Every day after I’ve fixed my breakfast, got my coffee, and read my emails, I head to where I can find them. And boy howdy have things changed since the days when there was also Dear Ann Landers. Or have they? Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose
Beyond reading the sampling of letters grouped together more or less by theme/type of question, I was also interested in your commentary and thoughts on the letters chosen for the book. Readers need not fear that you’ve ridiculed anyone. No, you remain honest yet also compassionate about (most) of the topics covered with the outliers being people who have been hateful to others and seem to want a buy or pat of approval from you for their convoluted reasoning.
Many of the topics made me groan (or groan as one reader mystifyingly put in her letter) while others had me wincing in astonishment or biting my lip in sympathy. I laughed, I cried. I even laughed in horror at the woman complaining about her husband’s toenail habit before I howled and gasped at what she admitted to being reduced to in an effort to stop it. My God if that won’t get him to stop …
I also wondered if any other writers, besides the one or two you mentioned having written later to update you, saw your responses and took your advice. And yes, I played along at home, pausing to think about what I would say and advise to someone who asked me these questions. I also learned a few resources to reference and reminded myself that we all have our faults. None of us is perfect. Hopefully many of us can change. Thanks for your years of fielding questions and efforts to try and help. B