Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson

Ten BirthdaysBook Description

“There are going to be so many things I wish I could’ve told you in person, Poppy. I won’t get the chance to do that, so perhaps this is my only way…”

It’s Poppy Kinsey’s birthday.

She should be blowing out candles and opening presents – but hers falls on the type of heart-wrenching, agonising anniversary she would far rather forget.

The worst day of them all. The day her mother died.But this year is special because the person she misses most in the world has left her a set of letters, one for each of her next ten birthdays.

As Poppy opens them year by year, she discovers that no matter how tough life gets, her mum will always be by her side, guiding her along the way


I remember reading Cecilia Ahern’s PS: I Love You last year. It was quite an emotional read but I liked it. Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkson sort of reminded me of that book and that is why I decided to read it. That and the fact that I really liked the cover.

The story begins with Poppy’s 16th birthday.Poppy is still mourning her mother and is even more distraught due to the fact that her mother died on her birthday. The day brings her more sadness than reasons for celebration. However, on this birthday, her dad presents her with ten letters that her mother had written for her to open through the next ten birthdays.

I liked the story-line in this book. The MC, Poppy, is likeable and relatable. She reminded me of myself in my teens and early twenties. The things that I used to worry about then that now seem like a distant, somewhat ridiculous memory. I also liked her two friends Freya and Mark and enjoyed reading about how their friendships changed through the years.

The letters were my favorite part of the narration. It felt like the kind of letters that I would write to my younger self. Her mother was able to pre-empt her life changes through each year and hence tackle different concerns that she had. Each letter also contained stories of her mother’s life. One of my favorite stories was about how the name Poppy was selected by her parents. It reminded me of what my parents told me about my own name. I was to be named Rahab after my grandmother. However, my dad actually saw something on TV about Princess Diana’s wedding anniversary which was in July which happened to be my birth month and yeah, that is how I ended up with the name Diana. The stories that Poppy’s mother shared made me smile while others made me thoughtful. They made me feel like I should call up my mom and ask her questions about her teenage years and early twenties.

Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson is a short but heavy book. The stories are narrated through each birthday. Each chapter begins on the next birthday. Although they only cover a day, there is so much information shared about the past year so it was easy to catch up on what happened and how the characters changed through each year. I really liked the themes and the main characters. I recommend this one to everyone but especially to those who enjoy issue-based YAs.

21 thoughts on “Ten Birthdays by Kerry Wilkinson

  1. The blurb tells me I’d better stay away from this book as I don’t have time to think about a subject that has a strong effect on me 🙂 But great review! I only saw the movie P.S I Love You and it made me ugly cry, so add in it mothers and it’s the end of my week!

    1. Thank you.PS I Love You was sad though it didn’t affect me as much as this one. I’m really close with mum so I couldn’t imagine what Poppy was going through.I totally get what you mean though.

  2. Sounds like an intriguing read! Maybe similar to how One Day by David Nicholls is told? Great review! I’m glad you enjoyed this one.

      1. It’s been over two years since I read it so I don’t remember too many details, but I was referring to the whole ‘telling the story through just one day each year’ theme. In One Day, the author tells the story of the relationship between the two MCs in snapshots of what happens each July 15th during twenty years. Pretty original way of telling a story. 🙂

    1. Thank you 🙂 The naming of Poppy in this book was so interesting.It made me think of how much power parents have when it comes to picking their children’s names.

  3. How sweet that your dad named you after Princess Diana 🙂 The cover of this book is cute and those letters from her mother sounds interesting. Excellent review as always!

    1. Thank you Faith. Yes it is. I guess that is why I liked this book so much. It made me think back to my teen years and also to some of the stories that my mum has shared with me over the years:-)

    1. lol it feels like a lifetime ago. Most of the things came to pass and others were just so ridiculous that they only remain as ‘silly’ memories 🙂 I need to watch PS I love You movie. I remember reading the book but I don’t think I have seen the movie.

  4. I personally love epistolary novels. Any book which has letters, emails, chat messages, etc. immediately steals my soul. Plus it sounds like this books has some strong and well-developed characters. Did you find Ten Birthday to be really sad?

    1. Not really sad as such. It had its ups and downs but mostly it just me thoughtful. It made me think about my own mom and all the conversations that I should have with her while we are both still here. It also made me think back to my teen years and wonder just how many things I would have done differently if I knew the things that I know now:-)

      1. Ain’t that the truth? They say that hindsight is 20/20– and if I had the hindsight I would have been a very different teenager. But, that’s how the cookie crumbles, as they also say.

        Wow. “They” say a lot. … And now I want a cookie. 😀

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