Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker

Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise ParkerDear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker
Published by Scribner on November 10, 2015
Genres: Memoir
Pages: 240
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
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A wonderfully unconventional literary debut from the award-winning actress Mary-Louise Parker.
An extraordinary literary work, Dear Mr. You renders the singular arc of a woman’s life through letters Mary-Louise Parker composes to the men, real and hypothetical, who have informed the person she is today. Beginning with the grandfather she never knew, the letters range from a missive to the beloved priest from her childhood to remembrances of former lovers to an homage to a firefighter she encountered to a heartfelt communication with the uncle of the infant daughter she adopted. Readers will be amazed by the depth and style of these letters, which reveal the complexity and power to be found in relationships both loving and fraught.


Mary-Louise Parker’s memoir Dear Mr. You is surprisingly literary. These vignettes (written in letter format) feel like interconnected short stories—so much so, that I felt compelled to refer back to the publicist’s email to see the word “memoir” with my own eyes.

Parker’s phrasing is beautiful and blunt, her style unique, but I have to admit it was tiring. I didn’t want to read these chapters one after another; I didn’t have that can’t-put-it-down feeling (maybe because there isn’t much continuity from chapter to chapter). Each letter is brilliant in its own way—there wasn’t a single one I didn’t love reading!—but I did need breaks between them.

“It’s so transparent, how willing we are to dismiss the intelligence of someone who rejects us, as though that renders them incapable of sound judgment.”

So much about the honest, passionate way Parker shares her experiences reminded me of Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, which I listened to on audio. I noticed that Parker narrates the audio version of Dear Mr. You. I enjoyed this memoir enough that I’d like to listen to this, even though I’ve already read it—I have a feeling it’ll be outstanding.

  • Debbie Rodgers

    Mary-Louise Parker has always held a fascination for me. This sounds like a brilliant memoir; I love the premise. Thanks for your review!

  • I’ve heard great things about this from almost everyone who has read it and the Tiny Beautiful Things comparison is definitely a plus!

  • I just listened to Tiny Beautiful Things on audio and LOVED it. So, thanks to your review I just bought the Dear Mr. You audio! I loved the quote you shared!

  • Amanda

    I hadn’t heard about this at all! Sounds like a good book to linger over upcoming fall nights!

  • I haven’t heard a thing about this but I’ve always liked her as an actor. Interesting about the continuity of the pieces, though that might make it good for bedtime reading. I felt the same about TBT–I had to take little breaks between so as to not get burned out (though I LOOOOOOOVE the book as a whole).