Letters to Sam: A Grandfather's Lessons on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life

Daniel Gottlieb

Sterling,  April 2006

"Dear Sam, my life was changed the moment you were born."

So begins this remarkable collection of thirty-two intimate and compassionate letters that Dan ("Pop") Gottlieb wrote to Sam, his grandson. Frank and honest, they address the same challenges we all face, each in our own way, and reading them delivers an inspiring and emotional punch.

Although the themes of the letters are universal, they draw from a highly personal well of experience. Dan Gottlieb has been paralyzed from the neck down since a nearly fatal automobile accident twenty-five years ago. His grandson Sam was diagnosed at fourteen months old with Pervasive Developmental Disability, a severe form of autism. Dan wrote these letters with the hope that Sam would one day be able to read them and, through them, get to know his grandfather.

Yet you will find no self-pity or regret in these letters. They sing with the purity of a grandfather's love, understanding, concern, and wisdom and cover universal life lessons: dealing with parents, coping with school, falling in love, living with disappointment, experiencing joy, and achieving personal success.

Written with keen intelligence and hard-won sensitivity, these are letters that illuminate the moments a man and a boy share. Dan's healing voice of tolerance, hope, and experience is inspiring and serves as a wonderful reminder that, regardless of our abilities and limitations, we all share in the human condition.

hardcover | ISBN: 9781402728839 | Publication Date: April 2006

"Within the first minute of reading this book, I had already begun to ask deep questions about my life. And within the second minute, I knew he was speaking as much to me as Sam. But by the third minute, I forgot I was even reading, and I felt more like I was in the great classroom of life, learning lessons that I will treasure forever." 
--Rachel Simon, author of Riding the Bus With My Sister

"Dan's love of Sam is indeed an exquisite love . . . After reading these powerful words, I look at my own beloved grandchildren in a different light." 
--Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate, President and Founder of World Centers of Compassion for Children International

"What a delicious read! Daniel Gottlieb's Letters to Sam touches us deeply in ways that can help us all learn to live richer, more satisfying lives. Its wisdom and insight justify him as one of America's favorite psychologists." 
--Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., author of Einstein Never Used Flashcards and How Babies Talk

"Letters to Sam is heartbreaking and heart-mending all at the same time. Dan has the authority of living through the extremities of pain and loss, so when you bite down on his wisdom, it's gold. I want to give this book to everyone I care about." 
--Ellen Bass, award-winning poet

"Letters to Sam is a remarkable book that I want to give to my wife and friends and family. I also want to share this book with my son who has special needs, along with his teachers and the parents at his school because it does a beautiful job of describing the beauty and richness of being unique and highly sensitive."
--Leonard Felder, Ph.D., author of The Ten Challenges

"In irreducibly simple yet profound words, Dr. Dan Gottlieb shares the wisdom he has derived from living in a wheelchair, battling his own inner demons, and practicing psychology for the past 35 years. Letters to Sam is a guide for the soul, and a wonderful gift to all families." 
--Robert A. Naseef, Ph.D., author of Special Children, Challenged Parents and co-editor of Voices from the Spectrum.

"Letters to Sam is the manifestation of a brilliant mind inside a giant heart."
--Gerda Weissmann Klein, author and historian