Friday, June 10, 2011


I have been a lifelong reader. I don’t remember a time when reading wasn’t a part of my life. My parents read to me every night until I could read on my own. Once I started reading easily on my own, my parents still read to me, though not as often and though I loved to read, the times my parents read to me were a special treat. I took great pleasure in listening to the different voices my Dad would attempt to do for characters and snuggling with my Mom before falling into a peaceful sleep. Therefore, I was quite excited to read Alice Ozma’s (born Kristen Alice Ozma Brozina) book THE READING PROMISE.

THE READING PROMISE is a memoir about Ozma’s childhood which was made particularly special by a promise she and her father made to each other when she was nine years old and in the fourth grade. They agreed that her father would read to her every night for 100 nights. There were rules, for instance they had to read a certain amount of time each night, it had to be done before midnight, and reading over the phone was allowed but only as an exception and not the rule. The 100 night goal was reached and both father and daughter agreed they wanted to continue. Thus, began The Streak: 3,218 consecutive nights of Jim Brozina reading to his youngest daughter for over nine years. They continued on The Streak when Jim’s wife left him and moved out of the house, when Alice’s older sister left home to stay overseas as an exchange student for a year, and when Alice was involved in a car accident. Through countless plays that Alice was in, overnight parties, and even on the night of her senior prom The Streak continued. Somehow they even made it through a particularly difficult night when Jim Brozima lost his voice because of laryngitis and was under doctor’s orders not to speak. The Streak continued until the night Jim had to drop Alice off at college.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading THE READING PROMISE. It’s written in a very easy-to-read, conversational style tinged in wisps of nostalgia with just the right dose of humor. The story is one that could easily be buried in the syrupy saccharin of sentimentalism, but it isn’t. Instead, Ozma takes key points from her life and beautifully explains how The Streak was a part of those moments, without bloating the events with unnecessary emotionalism. Many of the events are funny, such as the author’s confession that she has a fear of the corpse of a particular deceased President coming to hunt and haunt her at night, while others are more serious.

The author makes a point to emphasize the importance of reading and reading to children, yet the core of the story is a love letter from a daughter to her father that displays a profound appreciation and deep love for the man who raised her. I know from my own experiences working with children and students that there is a lot of pain in the girls and young women of our country. Many are abandoned by their fathers at an early age. Others have a physical father present, but one who never makes an effort to connect with his female offspring. THE READING PROMISE illustrates what a positive relationship between a father and his daughter can look like. There are some who might take issue with certain particulars of Brozima’s childrearing techniques. Others might disagree with some of his beliefs and philosophies. However, there is no doubt about the love Brozima has for his children and the sacrifices he made for them. Stories and books can help make us better people and the best stories can have a profound effect upon our lives. THE READING PROMISE can be such a book and I hope many fathers will read this book and take away from it a greater understanding of how to love and raise their daughters.

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