Letters from the Inside

by John Marsden

When Mandy and Tracey first begin exchanging letters as pen pals, everything seems... read more

When Mandy and Tracey first begin exchanging letters as pen pals, everything seems straightforward as they write about school, home, their love lives. As the letters grow more personal, a real friendship begins to take hold. At the same time, Mandy begins to suspect that Tracey is not always being honest about the details of her life. When her suspicion is confirmed, she presses Tracey to tell the truth - and the truth is that Tracey is in prison. Tracey expects this will scare Mandy off, but Mandy continues to write - about her daily life and about the problems in her own life - most of which center on her violent older brother, while Tracey slowly reveals more and more about her own life in prison. While she won't tell Mandy the crime she committed, the tough, hard-edged girl Tracey describes herself as being is not the person Mandy recognizes as the real Tracey - the Tracey who reveals herself in her writing. With Mandy's support and encouragement, Tracey begins to drop the tough facade and dares to imagine a life beyond the walls of prison when she turns 21. Told entirely through the correspondence, this intense novel moves skillfully from the mind of one young woman to the other, and its masterful pacing establishes and then heightens the anxiety as it draws toward a conclusion that is devastating in its implications. (Age 15 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1994

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