Book: Letters from Rapunzel

Letters from RapunzelLetters from Rapunzel
Sara Lewis Holmes
2007 (HarperCollins)

“Rapunzel” writes letters to a Post Office box that her father used to write to. In these letters she writes about what she’s worried about, what she hopes for and what she’s trying to accomplish. Her father, who has always been under and Evil Spell (Clinical Depression), is in the hospital and no one will tell her what’s going on beyond that. Her mother is woefully unwilling to share information with our heroine. As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, “Rapunzel” is being put into the gifted program at school (which she clearly belongs in) and she isn’t very happy about it. Through her letters we get to see how she reacts to all of this and get a taste of this wonderful character’s amazing imagination.

I adored this book. It was really amazing to me. I always find books where a character is portrayed as “gifted and talented” interesting because I was such a kid myself and knew many more such kids (I went to a special school full of them). The problem with such characters is that they often aren’t very believable. Either being smart is portrayed as an amazing gift and the kid can do anything they want once they realize it or they are snotty little brats that you’d never want to be friends with (think Hermione Granger in the first book before the boys get to know her, but usually worse). The truth is, it’s not really like that. Being gifted is awesome in some very real ways, but it also majorly sucks in some very real ways. Holmes really, truly got it. She absolutely nailed it. I’ve never read a book before that spoke so realistically to what it’s like to be a gifted kid dealing with schools and the stupidness that comes along with them. Cadence (“Rapunzel”) speaks with such a genuine voice and her stories and responses to school assignments (classic gifted kid responses to homework, by the way) ring with such consistency and truth. I really wish I had read this book when I was ten or eleven. It would have been perfect for me.

The struggle Cadence has with her father’s depression and her mother’s refusal to tell her what’s going on is really what keeps this book together. The gifted kid thing alone wouldn’t have been enough for a good, solid book, but the plot that Holmes has woven is perfect. It’s intricate and interesting, especially with the fairy tale themes woven over it and the idea of wishes and magic woven in.

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I rarely say that, but I’m saying it about this one. I was incredibly impressed with this book. I’ve suggested it to a number of people already and I might even donate a copy to the library of the school I used to go to (where my mother still teaches). I highly recommend this book. It’s great even if you haven’t dealt with the gifted education system in any way or with depression or anything. This is really more than an “issue” book and I really don’t want it to get pigeonholed that way. If you haven’t checked out this book, I definitely recommend it. It’s well worth the read!

- Publisher’s Description
- Book Blog: First Post (First Impressions)
- Book Blog: Second Post (Gifted Kid)
- Book Blog: Third Post (Rapunzel’s Mom)
- Book Blog: Fourth Post (The Post Office Box)
- Book Blog: Fifth Post (Final Thoughts)
- Buy it from Amazon

- Sara Lewis Holmes’s Website
- Sara Lewis Holmes’s Blog

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