26 September 2023

Dear Mum

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Edited by Samuel Johnson, Hachette Australia, $22.99.

What a novel idea! If you could tell your mum anything, what would it be?

Find out what over 90 Australian “notable notables” had to say after Gold Logie Award winner, actor and philanthropist Samuel Johnson asked them to contribute letters to their mums for publication.

Dear Mum is a fitting tribute — from the heart. It is an unreserved, heartfelt and poignant assembly of letters celebrating the importance of mothers, and it raises funds for cancer research! Illustrated by Shaun Tan, this genuinely candid and distinctive book of letters makes you grin and weep, sometimes all at once.

Johnson leads the celebrity list of authors that also includes Patti Newton, Guy Pearce, Amanda Keller, Rebecca Gibney, Peter Helliar, Shane Jacobson, Larry Emdur, Gillian O’Shaughnessy, Adam Spencer, Brooke Davis, Lawrence Mooney, Elizabeth Tan, Clare Wright, Hilde Hinton, Julie Koh, Susie Youssef and Matilda Brown

Not all the submissions “are fairy floss.” A number of the letters dig deep, exploring the complex relationships many people share with their mothers. “Some of the people have decided to clear the air with their mums, some of them are being very refreshing and honest.” It also contains a poem written to Samuel by his late mother.

This is an appropriate tribute, a homage it could be said, to the global celebration of Mother’s Day, which not only honours the mother of the family, it also places focus on motherhood, maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in society today.

Johnson and his late sister, Connie, co-founded the Love Your Sister charity in 2012, aiming to raise $10 million for cancer research — a goal the foundation reached in 2019.

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