About the Book:
Life is pretty complicated for Elizabeth Clarry. Her best friend Celia keeps disappearing, her absent father suddenly reappears, and her communication with her mother consists entirely of wacky notes left on the fridge. On top of everything else, because her English teacher wants to rekindle the "Joy of the Envelope," a Complete and Utter Stranger knows more about Elizabeth than anyone else.
But Elizabeth is on the verge of some major changes. She may lose her best friend, find a wonderful new friend, kiss the sexiest guy alive, and run in a marathon.
So much can happen in the time it takes to write a letter...
I see loads of bloggers exclaim over Australian authors and I'm inclined to agree with them. Every single new book I pick up written by one of them has yet to truly disappoint me! And this one is very far from being a disappointment. I've never read a story that was written only as letters before. I've seen some around, but didn't think it would be something to capture my attention. The format of letters and notes and postcards seems like it would be jarring, and I was worried it wouldn't allow me to connect with the characters as well, but somehow it worked wonderfully here. This was such a laugh out loud, shake my head, and breeze right through it kind of book! I'm so glad I saw it mentioned somewhere this week and picked it up from the library.
Elizabeth is a writer, although she wouldn't say she is. But somehow she is able to take the most mundane things happening in her daily life, and make it interesting in a letter to her new penpal. Of course, being a teenager, she's got plenty of angst to complain about also. For Ms. Moriarty does touch on some hard issues, but doesn't focus on them completely either. She offers just enough to make you realize that the issues are serious and need to be dealt with seriously, not just brushed aside, yet that's not ultimately what the focus is. The focus seems more about Elizabeth (and Christina) learning that friendships and relationships are hard, and they do change as you grow older. And that's okay. It doesn't mean it's easy, it simply means it's life. Everyone learns these lessons at one point or other, and this is Elizabeth's turn. She handles it well, all things considered. Christina (her penpal) definitely helps with the transitioning. Their friendship is so fun! Writing their thoughts and feelings down help them get to know each other a whole lot quicker. It's easier sometimes, to be more honest with a stranger than with someone you know well. Especially if your relationship with that someone you thought you knew seems to be changing majorly. But they quickly move beyond acquaintances and truly become good friends. It doesn't take long for Elizabeth and Christina to start relying on one another for encouragement and support. But that's not the only relationship that's awesome. I absolutely loved Elizabeth's mother! (Her dad, not so much.) Her notes (with lots of exclamation points!!!!) always made me laugh, as she slyly tried to get her daughter to help come up with new ad slogans for her job. Of course Elizabeth always saw right through her, but humored her anyway. They simply have a great mother/daughter dynamic. Supporting each other, cheering for each other, and readily talking about things and being honest with one another. That was a big plus for me-the fact that Elizabeth pretty well tells her mom everything! I've always been the same way with my mom and I loved that.
There's a quiet little romance here too, but it's mostly in the background. Which isn't to say that Elizabeth and Christina don't talk about it, because hello, they are teenage girls! :D But it's not the main push of the story, just a fun little sideroad. This book is a relatively quick read and brings lots of entertainment, I definitely recommend it!
A Favorite Passage:
"I hate mornings.
It's unfair how quickly you get out of the habit of getting up too. I mean, all you do is sleep in for two weekend days, and next thing it's Monday and your body's going, "uh, this is like four hours before getting-up time or something; you want to turn off that noise and go back to sleep?"
Anyway, right now the only thing stopping me from falling into a coma on my desk is writing to you. Thanks. It's a combination of the Monday-morning tiredness thing and the most-boring-man-in-the-world-congratulations-come-on-down-Rattlesnake. Rattlesnake is Mr. Rivers, our stupendous science teacher, and I don't think it's fair that he gets to be called a cool name like Rattlesnake."