*This post contains links to book reviews on this blog.
Letters tend to be personal messages to oneself or to someone important to them. In the case of literature, they can make up the entire story, drive the plot, show character development, and many other things. Today I am listing five young adult books where letters are important to the plot but don’t make up the entire book.
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon has a pen pal named Blue. Their relationship is threatened when one jerk in the school hacks his emails and blackmails Simon with his sexuality. If he doesn’t play wingman for this bully, everyone at his school will find out about his sexuality. Worse, he’ll be compromising Blue. The emails function as a major conflict, but it also develops the characters of Simon and Blue.
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
When her aunt died, Ginny discovered that her aunt wrote her 13 letters. They give her instructions and send her on a journey across Europe to fulfill her aunt’s final wishes. She also grows in dealing with relationships and gaining more independence. She makes great friends and learns more about her aunt’s life. Ultimately, reading the letters and following them help her cope with her aunt’s death and become more independent.
Orange by Ichigo Takano
Unlike the previously mentioned books, this manga’s plot is started with letters written from the future to the sender’s past self. She wants her past self to live without regrets. Her past self starts to realize that everything in the letters are true, and she tries to meet those wishes. It’s speculative fiction, but it takes the letters’ function to the plot and character development to a different level. Each chapter is named after the number of letter, by the way.
True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan
James has been writing letters to people in his life about his frustrations with them and locking them in a desk, never to see the light of day again. They’re for him to write the truth, to get it out of his system. He’s trying to figure out his sexuality, and everything goes to Hell, like in Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, when someone steals those letters and starts sending them.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The letters are in the form of cassette tapes. Each side of the tapes addresses one specific person, though all people must hear these personal letters. While there is controversy about how this book (and its Netflix adaptation) handles suicide, the letters on each tape about why so-and-so influenced her decision to commit suicide do make the characters react.
Do these books sound good to you? Have you read any good books where letters drive the plot or character reactions?