Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Letters In Cardboard Boxes by Abby Slovin

Letters in Cardboard Boxes

Author: Abby Slovin

Publication Date: September 9, 2011

Publisher: :Lulu.com

Genre: Contemporary



Winner of the First Horizon Award for superior work by a debut writer, 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 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 through some of its heavier themes with honesty and humor.

Jenn’s Thoughts: I enjoyed this book, to me it's a story about letting go when there isn't really anything you can do to change things anymore. It's about a 29 year old woman named Parker and her grandmother, Dotty. Dotty has been there for Parker her whole life, when her parents weren't, and now Dotty is sick, and there is nothing Parker can do to help her, like she always helped Parker. All that is left of the past is letters and postcards. The postcards Dotty sent Parker, and the ones Parker sent back, and a strange box of love letters that Parker finds in Dotty's closet after she is moved to the Center. Love letters which strangely aren't what Parker originally thought, which was from her grandfather. The story follows Parker as she tries to come to terms with what is happening, her grandmother no longer remembers her, what will she do when there is no one left? Luckily, new friends are to be made, so they can all get through this together.

I'm not sure how to explain how I felt while reading this book. At first I was unable to feel a connection with Parker. She just seemed so unfeeling and detached from the rest of the world. And then we find out how awful her parents were. They may have felt they were doing her a favour, but they weren't. Finally I was able to feel pity for Parker. I can't even imagine what it would be like for your parents just to abandon you (pretty much) as a child. I can't get over the fact that they felt a 12 year old would be able to look after herself for months at a time, with no live in guardian. If they were real people, I would want to tell them off. Parker seems to only have one person in her life who actually gives a damn about her, but then she starts to lose that person. This is where I felt a strong connection with her. My own grandmother went through the phases of Alzheimers pretty quickly. I can't really blame her for not seeing it creep up, we didn't see it. You just assume as people get older they don't remember everything anymore.

Luckily for Parker, her grandmother caused her life to intertwine with Tanya, a teen she mentored. Both really care for Dotty, so you get to see if that connection will bring them together. Then she meets the neighbour Jerry, and he is able to comfort her just by being there to sit with. Parker goes through the incredible journey of change and acceptance of this change, she begins to learn more about herself and starts living her life, rather than just going through the motions. This story have me in tears and smiling, I would definitely recommend this book, especially to someone who is having a hard time letting go. This is a great read. Good job Abby Slovin.

Meghan’s Thoughts: Letters in Cardboard boxes was a story about so many things, about loss, love, forgiveness, sadness, friendships, family, and much more. This book provoked in me a series of different emotions. I felt sadness, not just plain sadness, I felt it in a multitude of ways. I felt it like an emptiness you feel when something big is gone from your life, I felt like a heavy burden when you feel there is nothing you can do to change the outcome of the future, and I felt it in a heart-aching way when your heart is broken by your own doings or others. Aside from sadness, I also felt joy, anger, envy, resentfulness, loneliness, love, the warmth of unexpected companionship, triumph, and more. After all these things I could feel the way Parker felt like she was sinking in a whirlpool of all these emotions combined. This book was very well written to instill these feelings in the reader so effortlessly.

This story takes you on the journey of one woman's loss of her Grandmother. The woman's name is Parker, and her Grandmother has been the only one constant in her whole life, making loosing her an emotional roller coaster that she's stuck on against her will. Parker's parents travel the world for their careers, leaving Parker at home. She wasn't alone though because she had her Grandmother. They were the best of friends, even though, of course, they had their rough patches in Parker's teenage years as she was feeling abandoned by her parents and angry at them for not being around like everyone else's parents. But even when Parker lashed out in her anger, her Grandmother stayed strong by her side.

Upon realizing that her Grandmother is sick and that she is loosing her, she starts remembering all the love her Grandmother has shown her growing up and feels that maybe she didn't return the sentiment as much as she should have. They used to send letters to each other often, pretending that they were vacationing in far away places. I loved reading some of the letters Parker's Grandmother wrote to her, she would use the location and theme of her letter to send a heartfelt message to her granddaughter, it was beautiful really. Parker really has no one else, until she meets two close friends of her grandmothers that ,aside from the the sickness taking place, she probably never would have known. One being a young girl her grandmother was mentoring at a nearby high school, the other an older gentleman who happened to be madly in love with her grandmother but due to certain circumstance they could not be together. With these two new found companions at her side, she takes this incredibly hard journey of letting go of the person she loves most and losing a major piece of her life.

The road is a hard, emotional struggle to say the least. This was a great read, and really reaches into you, makes you think what it would be like to have to lose that person you hold dearest to you. You will most likely feel your heart break while reading this.

I would recommend this book for sure. It's a great story for anyone who's lost someone, or even if you haven't, Slovin's wonderful writing can take you to that place.

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