Monday, May 19, 2014

Review of 'The Milestone Tapes' by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro

The Milestone Tapes
by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro


The only thing Jenna Chamberland ever wanted in her life was to be a good wife and a good mom. In death, she’ll find that she still wants the same things.

With stage-four breast cancer, a terminal diagnosis and six months to live, Jenna fears what awaits her family after she is gone: Her husband, Gabe, will be left to raise their daughter alone, and Mia, only seven years old, will be forced to face a world without her mother.

Ten blank tapes to teach her daughter everything she’ll ever need to know. Dead before Mia ever really got to know her, Jenna exists now only in pictures and watercolored memories, and Mia finds herself struggling to remember her mother in a way that feels real. But on the ninth anniversary of Jenna’s death, she will return to her daughter through a series of audiocassettes. One tape each of the milestones of Mia’s life, and with them, a letter explaining that Mia should only listen to the tapes when the time is right.

With the help of her mother’s long-gone voice, Mia may just learn how to embrace the challenges and triumphs of her ever-changing life with humor, grace and a lot of hope.

Rereleased for its second anniversary, the novel that book bloggers have called “beautiful” and “unforgettable” returns with new content and tapes never before read.

Read an excerpt:
Picking up her finely bound leather journal, Jenna pulled a pen from the recesses of her desk. It had be a long time since she had sat in here, behind her desk, with any real purpose. She flipped open the journal and began to think.

She wrote quickly, crossing off and underlining, as thoughts flashed in her mind, some overruling others, as she highlighted the pivotal moments of her daughter’s coming life.


Becoming A Mother

Father Getting Remarried

College Graduation

First Love

Wedding Day

High School Graduation

First Broken Heart

Leaving Home First Time


Ten tapes, ten corresponding milestones her daughter would pass in her absence. You raise your children to fly, Elizabeth had said, but a mother’s work, even in death, is never really done, Susanna whispered from behind.

**My thoughts**

This book absolutely devastated me. I loved it. 

It's bad enough being the child witnessing the death of your parent. I can't even begin to imagine how a parent must feel having to prepare to leave behind her child. Especially when the child is so young and already half of her life has been essentially without her mother. The raw emotion is captured so well in this book. Here I am, 24 hours after finishing it, and I am still feeling it. 

I think if you have ever been on either side of the parental death coin, you will understand this book better than someone who hasn't. I think I was even more touched by it because I am approaching the anniversary of the death of my father, who also died from illness. I have also lost my mother to that other plane known as Alzheimer's. It doesn't matter if you are 7 or 37, the pain is still real and intense. I cried through the first 60% of this book, at some points sobbing so hard I couldn't even see.

I love the idea of Milestone Tapes. What a brilliant idea and a tremendous gift to give to a child. What I wouldn't give to have the advice of one of my parents again, or even to hear their voices again. Jenna has been forced into making a difficult decision and is trying the best that she can, considering her circumstances. None of us truly know what we would do, unless we were in that situation. I know of many who have made similar decisions. This book seemed so very real.

I do wish we could have gotten more of Mia in her later years. I feel like we missed out on so much of her growing and healing. Even as she starts to hit those milestones for which her mother recorded tapes, I still wanted to know more. I really thought that the book was going to end with me needing to quickly look for a sequel to finish the story. I wanted it to continue.

This was the author's debut novel. She has set the bar high for herself. I look forward to checking out future titles.

Book links

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Ashley Mackler Paternostro is the author of The Milestone Tapes and the Amazon Best Selling novel In The After. Her shorter works can be found in Holiday Wishes - An Anthology for a Children’s Charity and on the blog Ashley lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and their three dogs.



Ashley will be awarding The Book Bag, a Glass Fishing Float, a Keychain, Cassette Tape Note Cards, Mug, Paperback & a digital copy of The Milestone Tapes (US only) to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a signed copy of The Milestone Tapes to a randomly drawn host.(US ONLY) Follow the tour for more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Andi,
    Thank you so much for hosting me today and, again, thank you for reading The Milestone Tapes. I am thrilled you enjoyed my novel!
    XO, Ash.
    P.S: Any one commenting today, feel free to ask any questions to may have about the book...I'll be visiting frequently!

  2. Ashley, did any personal experiences spark your ideas for this novel?

  3. Hi Rachel,

    That's a really good question...and the answer is yes, The Milestone Tapes is very loosely based upon, but completely inspired by, my mother's battle with stage three breast cancer when I was 11. My mother is now a 15 year survivor, but the experience was really one that I wanted to explore more as an adult throughout a novel, but for literary purposes I rewrote the story and changed the ending. For me writing can be really cathartic and the journey of it allows me to see things from different angles.

    Thanks for your question!


  4. Really great review! Thank you for sharing. This is one I want to read.

  5. sounds like an interesting twist, I want to read it now ;)

  6. thank you for the giveaway and the excerpt

  7. It sounds... beautiful, but in a haunting way. I'm assuming that the point of view switches between Jenna and Mia, but I also wonder if we get to see what the father feels also. It sounds like a great read.


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