I am so excited to be sharing this review with you today! I am good friends with the author of this novel, and it’s been such a great experience seeing this story come together.
Title: Abby’s Letters
Author: Dana Romanin
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
“For years, Jane’s mom told her horror stories about her time spent in foster care. Now she’s determined to keep her little sister from suffering the same fate.
Seventeen-year-old Jane Sanders has had to take care of her alcoholic mother and little sister, Abby, since her dad died seven years ago. And now Mom had to go and die too. Authorities determine it was a homeless transient who died in the fire of the old manufacturing plant, but Jane knows the truth.
There is no way she’s going to let Abby go into foster care which leaves her with one option—fake her mom’s life. As far as Abby knows, their mom is in rehab. And Jane wants to keep it that way. She’d be eighteen in a few months then she could become legal guardian to her sister. With the help of her best friend, Clark, it should be easy, right?
Juggling nosy neighbors, a concerned school counselor, and an oblivious new boyfriend turns out to be harder than Jane thought. But the real problem begins when Abby starts writing letters to Mom. Through Abby’s letters, Jane sees a different side to their mom—a side she could have loved. And loving Mom is something she didn’t plan on. Because loving somebody makes it harder to ignore their death.”
Back a year or two ago, I received a rough copy of Abby’s Letters to beta read and instantly fell in love with the story. And that was an early copy. Since it’s official publication a few weeks ago, I have reread the finished story and fallen even more in love with it!
There are so many things I could address in this review today, and honestly, I might just mention all of them. This story is just so beautifully written. I want to gush over it for hours. I think that was what I was most in love with in this novel. The writing.
Being a writer myself, I am always evaluating the writing style of the books I read. I learn so much just from reading others work and come to appreciate the story immensely more as I observe the inner workings of the piece.
As I observed the details of Abby’s Letters, there were some specific aspects of the story that I particularly loved. These things were mainly centered around the characters. I loved the characters and admired how well they were written.
As Dana introduced each character into the story, she expanded on each with just the right ratio of information based on their standing in the narrative. She never gave too much or too little information on a character. I wasn’t left stranded in piecing together a character’s image or overwhelmed with too many details. The characters were solidly presented.
Dana also presented the characters in the ideal way of showing instead of telling. You learn many of the characters attributes from the dialogue and other actions, not so much through a paragraph of information dumping.
Another thing I admired about the characters were their development throughout the story. Each character grew in a different aspect that resulted in a well-rounded image that set them up to continue expanding in the next installment.
My favorite character development was that of the main character, Jane. Specifically in the aspect of her thoughts and feelings towards her mother. At first, the actions of her mom leaves Jane confused and resentful, but those feelings eventually evolve into something different. The way in which they unfold is both harrowing and beautiful.
Although I’m unable to relate to Jane’s character in the aspect of similar experiences, I felt that I had an abnormal sense of understanding for her situation. Dana wrote Jane’s character so well in that I could relate to her on a deeper level beyond similar experiences. Overall, she pens the characters in a way that your heart can’t help but latch on to them.
Along with these quality character development techniques, I also admired Dana’s writing as a whole. The lay-out of the story was easy to follow and the writing was simple, yet informational and interesting. I didn’t come across any plot holes and overall felt that this was a well-rounded novel. When it comes to writing and storytelling, I consider Dana to be one of the masters.
Another one of my favorite things about this novel was the ending scene at the church. The display of God’s forgiveness and grace in Seth’s message, Clark’s realization, and Jane’s surrender was heart-warming and thought-provoking. That scene brought tears to my eyes as I connected with each message of truth. No matter the form, God’s grace, love, and forgiveness never ceases to amaze me.
Overall, this debut novel holds each thing required to create a good, solid story. Strong characters, intriguing premise, comprehensible writing style, and an encouraging message.
If you are a fan of a good young adult, contemporary novel, I highly suggest checking this one out!
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