LETTERS TO JULIA by Barbara Ware Holmes


Age Range: 12 & up
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 A teenage aspiring writer strikes up an unlikely correspondence with a New York City editor in a novel that takes on books and beauty, the writing process, and personal and parental problems. When she's told she has talent and a ``poetic sensibility, something rarer than the gift of words,'' Liz Beech, 15, sets to work submitting her novel-in-progress to editor and mentor Julia Steward Jones. The disjointed narrative is comprised of the chapters Liz sends (these are based on her own home life, forming a story within the story), her letters to Julia, and Liz's journal entries, which conveniently disclose her inner thoughts, but are also repetitive and dramatic. The premise of the book strains credibility, but the plot proves even more far-fetched: The pen pals meet and Liz leaves home, angered by Julia's friendship with her father, whom she despises; the now-rocky relationship is further endangered when Julia turns up--somewhat melodramatically--in a psychiatric clinic where, inspired by Liz, she writes poetry in an effort to heal herself. Julia's unburdening of adult concerns--death of an elderly parent, lack of direction, and midlife soul-searching--will fail to elicit much concern from readers; the characters never come off the page; and while there is a genuine attempt to reveal something of the writing (and publishing) process, the results are superficial. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 11th, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-027341-0
Page count: 226pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1997


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