I've read two books in the past month that have to do with letters. The first, was Jenny Han's new YA To All The Boys I've Love Before. It's about a high school girl who, when she's decided it's time to be done with a crush, writes an honest, heartfelt letter to the boy and then seals it away in a hatbox, giving her closure for her feelings. Someone discovers the letters and sends them to the boys. What happens next is funny and sweet. It is a book with honesty, humor, and wisdom.
Earlier this morning I finished Jojo Moyes' The Last Letter From Your Lover. This one is centered on the story of Jenny Sterling and Anthony O'Hare and their star-crossed love affair. The story starts in the 60's and then is picked up again in 2003. Moyes has such a gift for telling stories that inhabit not only your imagination, but also your heart. I don't know how you could read one of her novels and not feel it as if it were your own. I'm left with a bit of an emotional hangover that I think is going to follow me around all day.
About half way through Jenny Han's book, as I was sifting through the artifacts of my earlier life that had been long buried in the office closet, I stumbled upon a letter in my own handwriting addressed to a boy who had once, rather long ago, ruled over my heart. I had no recollection of writing the letter. I pulled back each fold until the letter was open in front of me and was brought back to those days of my 14th year when I rarely thought of anything aside from this boy.
I couldn't help but wonder why I decided not to send this letter.
There were plenty of other letters I did send and as I sifted through boxes and boxes of letters and cards saved from high school, college, and even after, I found many replies from all the boys I'd written to over the years. There were some from lovers, some from friends, some from friends who wanted to be more, and some from unrequited loves, those boys who stole my heart and never even knew how much I cared.
The truth is, I miss letters. In these days of social media and email, they have become a rare treat. Some of those correspondences from my teens and twenties are counted among my most cherished possessions. I think about what they mean to me now and I wonder what they will mean to me in another twenty or forty years.
I've written before of the letters my grandpa wrote home during WWII and how he gave them to me a few years ago. I value those as if they were great riches. And now that he's gone, they mean even more. They're probably the reason why letters are such an important part of the novel I began last November.
|A letter unearthed from my late grandfather, who was an inspiration for my most recent manuscript.|