Letters from the Inside

Author: John Marsen
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 1991
Awards: A School Library Journal: Best Book of the Year
The Horn Book Fanfare; A Publisher’s Weekly Choice of the Year’s Best Books; ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Mature Young Adults

Overview: Letters from the Inside is not a happily ever after type of story. It is instead, a riveting story of two fifteen-year-old girls living in Australia who strike up a powerful friendship through letters they write back and forth to one another. Over the year the story takes place, the girls go from hiding who they are behind masks of happiness, to spilling their hearts out to one another in a desperate attempt to have someone understand them. This story is a heartbreaking tale of the harsh reality that these girls call “life”. The letters become a dependency for the girls; they need more than anything to have some one hear what they have to say. This story describes an ill fated friendship and leaves the reader breathless and looking for more.

Activity: The story ends abruptly leaving a number of unanswered questions still up in the air. Have my students first describe the questions they want answered, and then make up their own endings to what they think happens next. Because of the intensity of this book, it may make some students uncomfortable to discuss it out loud. Instead, students might keep a reflection journal to jot down their thoughts, questions, and emotions throughout the story.

Reviewer’s Name: Nikki Palmer