Monday, October 13, 2008

A Perfect 10: THE LETTERS by Luanne Rice and Joseph Monninger


THE LETTERS – Luanne Rice and Joseph Monninger
A Perfect 10
Bantam (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0-553-80741-7
October 2008
Contemporary Fiction

Alaska and Monhegan Island, Maine – Present Day

THE LETTERS is a series of letters written back and forth between Sam and Hadley who have been married many years and are both grieving for their son, who died in a plane crash in Alaska. They have given up on their marriage, neither one able to come to terms with their son’s death, and not able to console each other, so lost in their own grief. Sam is in Alaska, on his way to the remote crash site. He must take a dog sled in order to reach the isolated area where the plane went down. Hadley disapproves of Sam’s trip, moves to Monhegan Island, and begins painting again. She loves the small remote island and decides to live there indefinitely.

Sam writes to Hadley telling her about the everyday happenings on the trail, about Gus, his guide; Martha, with her sled dogs; and the bush pilot who picks up and delivers the mail. Although Hadley is at first reluctant to write Sam, they begin a correspondence.

Through THE LETTERS, Sam and Hadley talk about their life together -- how they met, and the mistakes they made throughout their marriage. They are both trying to get through their grief in their own way. Because feelings and thoughts can sometimes be expressed easier in letters, as is the case with Sam and Hadley, THE LETTERS draw them closer as they mourn their son. They do not edit or rethink their words to each other; they are honest and sometimes hurtful. It is a sentimental story as Sam and Hadley reminisce about Paul and what went wrong in their lives, life and death issues. Hadley sketches charming vignettes in her letters about what is going on around her. Is there any hope for these two sensitive people?

A beautifully written short novel, THE LETTERS will grab at your heartstrings and sometimes bring tears to your eyes. Readers will learn a lot about dog sleds and the wonderful animals that risk life and limb for their masters. You will almost feel you are in Alaska in the wilderness of snow and sleet, or huddled by the fire on the island in Maine. Warm-hearted and heart-rending, THE LETTERS is a tale that shouldn’t be missed. It is a Perfect 10.

Marilyn Heyman

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