Book review: ‘Daddy’s Girl’ by Michael Schnabel

‘Daddy’s Girl’ by Michael Schnabel is a memoir about the challenges and struggles of parenting. Photo: Amazon

Michael Schnabel is an author and a graduate of Northern State University. Michael developed his passion for writing and storytelling during his thirty-year career at Bristol-Myers Squibb. He lives in Overland Park, Kansas with his wife, and when not spending time with family, you can find him tending to his 26-acre tree farm. His first book, “Daddy’s Girl,” is a memoir about the challenges and struggles of parenting through a medical crisis. (Amazon, 2023)

“Daddy’s Girl” – How does a young mother overcome an 8% chance of living to raise her newborn son? She becomes a warrior and provides hope for others. This is the story of a father, his daughter, and the deadly battle she won. In each person’s life there are events that forever change their course. Twenty-seven year old Stephanie experienced two of these events in fourteen days; the birth of her only child and the discovery that she might now live long enough to raise him. She is haunted by the thought that this baby will only know her through pictures, until she makes that thought her motivation to survive. Michael Schnabel, Stephanie’s father, tells the story of survival and how three generations of a family respond to crisis. It begins with the happy news that Stephanie is pregnant but well into her second trimester, she starts feeling sick. The narrative switches back and forth between the present, Stephanie’s ordeal, and the past, as Michael shares parenting stories and the lessons he learned along the way. Some of the chapters contain ‘life lessons’ like “The obstacles people face in life do not define them, but the way they deal with them might.” In the Epilogue, he shares what they as a family learned to do during a medical challenge, including the importance of having a team mentality, seeking out medical experts according to the disease you are fighting, taking it one day at a time, and celebrating victories, no matter how small.

As the English poet John Donne famously wrote, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself,’ so it is when facing a major medical diagnosis. In Stephanie’s case, the joy she and her husband experienced with the birth of their son Caden came with a cancer diagnosis. Family and friends surrounded them with the love and support necessary to see this challenge through. Told through the point of view of her father Michael, it also chronicles a parent’s difficult journey as he watches their daughter struggle on. The language is simple enough to make this an easy read but it comes with a trigger warning: some of the material is somber and difficult to get through but readers are rewarded with a happy ending. Even though the subject of religion comes up, it does not come across as preachy and instead, Michael focuses on a ‘higher power’ and the importance of surrounding yourself with loving people, doing good for others, and being at peace. “Daddy’s Girl” is the story one woman’s difficult journey and contains a wide range of emotions while reinforcing the validity of family, hope, miracles, and faith. It is recommended for fans of memoirs, survival biographies, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books.

*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.

Rating: 3 out of 5.