Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Letters in Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin
Letters In Cardboard Boxes tells the story of an eccentric grandmother and her granddaughter alongside a series of fantastical letters they once exchanged. Their letters once traversed the East River to help Parker escape the loneliness of a childhood without her globe-trekking parents and communicate during her turbulent teenage years. Now, nearly a decade later, Parker begins to rediscover the evidence of this letter writing tradition, as well as the family’s untold stories and, unexpectedly, letters from her grandmother’s own youth that paint a very different portrait of the woman who raised her.
Letters carries us through the universally-shared experience of loss and the process of coping with life’s unexpected twists and turns. Through unusual and bold characters, the story moves some of its heavier themes with honesty and humor.
This was a lovely story, with a sweet group of characters that will stay in your head for a long time after you finish the last page.
The characters are the most important thing in this novel. The relationships between them are written with an expert hand and in such a manner that they are completely believable. The way that Parker, the protagonist, develops throughout the novel is really worth the whole book. There’s nothing better than to read a book where the main character really does change.
The plot is intricate and handled well, keeping the reader interested from the beginning, which is sometimes an issue with literary novels. There is a nice sense of pacing, as we start learning things about Dotty (Parker’s grandmother) along with the protagonist. The writing itself is simple yet poignant, not calling attention to itself but instead letting the characters tell their story, which is refreshing.
This is a book that I would recommend for many people. If you enjoy literary novels this would probably make a nice choice. Although it is a sad story, it does have a redemptive flavor to it that will leave you smiling rather than crying.