In this era of feverish IM-ing and text-ing, letter writing may seem to be a lost art. Not so for a handful of young protagonists appearing in fall novels.
Antonia Lucia Labella, who stars in Donna Freitas's The Possibilities of Sainthood (FSG/Foster, Aug.), has two aspirations: she longs to receive her first kiss—and to become a saint. In pursuit of the latter, the teen sends a monthly letter to the Vatican proposing a new patron saint, and recommending herself for the honor.
A teen with perhaps a more attainable goal in mind—becoming a chef—is featured in Dear Julia by Amy Bronwen Zemser, an October title from Greenwillow. To the dismay of her feminist politician mother, Elaine dreams of following in the footsteps of Julia Child. For 10 years, the teen has been writing letters to her idol, but has never mailed a single one. Yet when an outspoken new friend convinces Elaine to take chances, this aspiring young chef steps up to the table.
Another fictional letter writer is the protagonist of Girl, Hero by Carrie Jones, due in August from Flux. At school, Lily is searching for a way to fit in yet still be herself, while at home she must deal with a needy mother and a traumatized older sister. Struggling to find someone to believe in, Lily pens letters to her hero, the late John Wayne, a strategy that helps her find the hero inside herself.
A more traditional epistolary relationship blossoms in Gran, You've Got Mail! by Jo Hoestlandt, a September novel from Delacorte. When Annabelle, attempting to master her computer keyboard, begins writing letters to her great-grandmother, their correspondence leads to a deep friendship. Originally published in France, the novel is translated by Y. Maudet and illustrated by Aurélie Abolivier.
Another novel with a transatlantic connection, Voss: How I Come to America and Am Hero, Mostly by David Ives (Putnam, Oct.) consists of a series of comic letters between Vospop Csklzwczdztwczky (aka Voss), a boy who has smuggled himself to America in a crate of cheese puffs, and a friend back home. In broken English, the Slobovian immigrant recounts finding his first job, rescuing his father from a hospital and adjusting to his new life.
Here's hoping young readers give these stories their stamp of approval.