I have somehow developed an affinity for epistolary novels, or books written in the form of letters and other documents adding up to a whole story. Jaclyn Moriarty has created a set of young adult books in this format, with The Year of Secret Assignments being the second, and my favorite, of the three. Feeling Sorry for Celia, and The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie round out the trilogy about teens attending Ashbury High in Australia. I accidentally read them in reverse order but they were just as good backwards as forwards and can really be read in any order.
Lydia, Emily, and Cassie are given an assignment in English class: the Pen Pal Project. Each student in Mr. Botherit’s class is assigned a student to write to, and receive letters from, at nearby Brookfield High. All three girls receive a male “Brooker Kid” for their pen pal, and the relationships they build with each boy range from friendship, to romance, to visceral hate, to an outlet for catharsis, to a challenging game of one-upmanship. In other words, your basic high school drama played out through the mail.
It is also worth mentioning that there is the occasional bit of strong language, typical of high school students when their parents are not around. The language, however, is a rather important aspect of the plot, and therefore I do not believe it to be gratuitous. It is a funny read, a mystery, a sob story, and every other type of high school account you can think of all rolled into one.
Check the WRL catalog for The Year of Secret Assignments.