I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives

Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch. Little Brown, $18 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-24131-1
In 1997, a 12-year old girl from Hatfield, Pa., and a 14-year-old boy from Mutare, Zimbabwe, began a pen-pal relationship. In alternating chapters, Alifirenka and Ganda recount how their mutual curiosity led to an increasingly honest, generous correspondence. Martin loves receiving Caitlin's photo, but when she requests one in return, "My heart went from sprinting to a standstill." He sends her the only photo his family owns. Hearing BBC accounts of Zimbabwe's political and economic turmoil alarms Caitlin, but a letter written on a popsicle wrapper shocks her: "I gasped. My friend was writing me on trash." She begins to send him her babysitting money—which Martin's family uses to buy food and to pay school fees and rent—and Caitlin's family eventually decides to sponsor Martin's education. Sensitively and candidly demonstrating how small actions can result in enormous change, this memoir of two families' transformation through the commitment and affection of long-distance friends will humble and inspire. Ages 12–up. Agent: (for Alifirenka and Ganda) Sarah Burnes, Gernert Company; (for Welch) Brettne Bloom, Kneerim, Williams & Bloom. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/16/2015
Release date: 04/14/2015
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-8681-2
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-316-24133-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-8678-2
Ebook - 204 pages - 978-0-316-24132-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4789-8680-5
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