Em is a twelve-year-old girl in a floating community off the Gulf Coast. Kaya is a political activist in a terrifying prison. They are pen pals.
Em’s wistful message in a bottle finds its way to Kaya, imprisoned above the molten lava of the Ruby Lake. Both are living precarious lives, at the mercy of societal, natural, and perhaps supernatural forces beyond their control. Kaya’s letters inspire Em, and Em’s comfort Kaya—but soon this correspondence becomes more than personal. Individual lives, communities, and even the fate of an entire nation will be changed by this exchange of letters.
Pen Pal is a story of friendship and bravery across age, distance, and culture, at the intersection of the natural and supernatural world.
|File size:||447 KB|
About the Author
Pen Pal is a message in a bottle, sent out into the world by Francesca Forrest.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Pen Pal, by Francesca Forrest, is YA in the way The Book Thief is YA, in the way The Giver is YA. It is YA of the best kind. It crosses genre, and it crosses age boundaries. It's a book anyone will pick up and be changed by. The characters are fully realized, the story never wobbles. The writing walks that so-difficult-to-find line of invisibility, in that the reader never feels the author poking her nose into the story. It belongs to the characters. And while the prose are pristine, they are never flashy in that, "Look at me! I'm the author! I wrote this! Look how pretty my words are!" THAT is what allows it to be YA when the subject matter is more than fluff, the accessibility, the intimacy of words and reader and nothing in between. Just amazing.
Pen Pal by Francesca Forrest caught my eye in Toronto in 2015. The idea of pen pals connecting and inspiring each other to achieve great things sounded promising, but in the end it didn’t quite deliver. Since the story is told in via the journals Em and Kaya write as well as the letters they exchange it was hard to gain a true outside perspective regarding the causes they were fighting for. I understood why each girl individually was fighting, but I didn’t understand how their fights connected to the outside world and to me personally. As a result, I had difficulty identifying with and feeling connected to Em and Kaya. The most puzzling thing about this book is it genre. I found it in a bookshop that specializes in science fiction and fantasy novels. There is some mysticism in Pen Pal, but it seems firmly rooted in a somewhat present time with contemporary political and natural weather events. Not that the book needs a clear genre, I read plenty of cross-genre books. However, I went in expecting more of a fantasy bent based on what the bookseller told me and the type of bookstore I purchased the book in. I struggled when the tiny bits of mysticism and fantasy crept in because it didn’t quite mesh with the over all contemporary fiction bent of the novel. As a reader, I felt required to accept the otherworldly elements with no explanation. Pen Pal might be a good fit for young readers who won’t necessarily question the seemingly random fantasy elements that caused me a great deal of confusion. This novel might also inspire younger reader to be activists and fight for noble causes. As an older reader, I’m not sure this book was a good fit as I spend most of my time puzzling out what type of book this was and finding a way to connect with the young characters and see the world from their point of view.
Next res. She got blocked
Absolutely amazing book. One of the best I've ever read. The characters are alive, the emotions real, the tension high. If you want a book that hooks you from the beginning, drags you into the world of the story, and doesn't let go, this is definitely the book for you!