An exchange of letters (hey, it’s 1982!) between two longtime best friends strengthens their relationship.
Scott’s first letter to Cath thanks her for “four years of English homework” and wishes her well in college. His next letter contains both spelling mistakes and hilariously misused quotation marks. But in spite of deliberately downplaying his decision to underachieve, skip college, and work at the family business, both Scott’s voice and Cath’s reminder that he’s “way smarter” than most people at her college set the stage for his potential regret. And working at his dad’s clothing store does set up situations in which customers’ behaviors do make Scott feel socially diminished and frustrated. But the job also expands his relationship with his father, which Scott appreciates during reflective moments. Meanwhile, Cath finds college enlightening, though her roommate and navigating the college dating scene present challenges. Her parents’ divorce and the impending birth of her half sister further strain her academic focus. Through it all Scott and Cath’s letters perfectly capture the richness of their relationship—from silly inside jokes to heartfelt support during crisis moments and even occasionally very real frustration with the other’s decisions. Their unflinchingly honest voices as they navigate the transition to adulthood create the book’s emotional resonance. Racial identity never figures in the correspondence.
Though there’s tantalizing potential romance, the novel is mostly a love story to best friends everywhere. Smart, charming, and delightful. (Historical fiction. 13 & up)