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Thursday, January 10, 2013

National Letter Writing Week: Epistolary Novels

January 8th-14th is National Letter Writing Week. There has always been something magical about getting a letter in the mail that isn't a bill, but especially in a world in instantaneous communication--email, texting, IM, it really means something. So, in honor of National Letter Writing Week, here are some novels written in letters. But I cheated, so some aren't handwritten or sent through the mail.

   

The Life and Opinions of Amy Finawitz by Laure Toffler-Corrie. Amy's best friend has moved away, and she keeps Callie caught up on life in New York through email. Most of her correspondance (we only get Amy's half) is filled with dread at a long-term project and the ease with which Callie seems to be adjusting to Kansas life. But, when Amy is forced to work on this project with Beryl (her elderly neighbor's Hasidic nephew) her worldview starts to expand the readers get a fun look into New York's past and present.

The Year My Life Went Down the Loo by Katie Maxwell. Emily's family has moved from Seattle to England (more specifically, Piddlington-on-the-Weld). Told in email to her best friend back home, it's filled with her hilarious take on romance and the draconian rules. Continue Emily's adventures with They Wear What Under Their Kilts?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Told in a series of letter to an unnamed friend, sensitive Charlie is struggling with normal teenage angst. With the help of some upper-classmen friends, he discovers the staples of alterna-teen high school--The Smiths, Rocky Horror, and makes the best mixtape ever. (Seriously, I recreated it after reading this book-- it's very good.)

    

Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. In Brooklyn in the 40s, Joey is sick of getting beat up, so he tells everyone he's friends with baseball player Charlie Banks. Now, he just needs proof. The last thing Banks wants is this kid who won't leave him alone, but over time, the two strike up friendship.

An Order of Amelie, Hold the Fries by Nina Schindler, translated from the German by Robert Barrett. After a case of mistaken identity, Tim starts to ask out Amelie. After she finally accepts, he presses for more dates. Amelie likes him, but she's as good as engaged. Told in letters, emails, texts, and more, this spare novel tells a compelling story with very few words.

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. In this delightful Regency fantasy, Kate is in London having a Season while her cousin Cecelia is stuck in the country. The two write letters to each other examining the magical oddities occurring around them, like Cecelia's sister's sudden irresistibility and Kate's near poisoning with a cup of hot chocolate. The first in a series, The Grand Tour is up next.

    

The following are all adult books, but ones that I loved as a teen or thing that teens will like.

Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock. Griffin is an English designer and Sabine lives in the South Pacific and knows way to much about him. The beauty lies in the fact that each letter comes in an envelope, which the reader has to open and pull out to read. Not great for libraries, but it's such a pretty book you'll want to own it. The magic continues in Sabine's Notebook.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Our unnamed narrator is a teen who finds a cache of letters that begins this sprawling epic through geography and time, where vampires lurk in library stacks, waiting to attack. Modern teens might be a bit confused by the Cold War geography and mindset, but for those looking for something beyond the basic vampire romance, this might be the ticket.

In the Bag by Kate Klise. When Andrew takes a chance and leaves a note in Daisy's luggage, she takes it the wrong way. But, Daisy's daughter Coco and Andrew's son Webb accidentally switch bags at the luggage carousel, the four start an email correspondance that the others don't know about. Teens will enjoy the look into the love lives of the their parents, and how much the two sides mis-assume about the other.

What are your favorite books told in letters?

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