So you like historical epistolary fiction…

Hi everyone, this extra post has two extra historical novels for your enjoyment!! Hopefully you enjoy trips to the past through the magic of letters like me!!

image of girl behind two mail boxes writing letter on top of bigger white box. white and grey dog by her side. trees behind her. red cursive letters above read Dear Hank Williams. blue print letters above that read Kimberly Willis Holt.
A poignant read

Title: Dear Hank Williams

Author: Kimberly Willis Holt

Genre: Fiction – historical

Publication details: Henry Holt and Company; NY, 2015

What this book is about: It’s 1948 in Rippling Creek, Louisiana, and Tate P. Ellerbee’s new teacher has given her class an assignment to learn the art of letter-writing. Luckily, Tate has the perfect pen pal in mind: Hank Williams, a country music singer whose star has just begun to rise. Told through Tate’s hopeful letters, this beautifully drawn novel from National Book award winning author Kimberly Willis Holt gradually unfolds a story of family love, overcoming tragedy, and an insightful girl learning to find her voice. 

My review: An emotional and poignant read!! Written as a series of letters to her favourite country singer, Tate Ellerbee’s young life unfolds within them along with her hopes and dreams. Set in Louisiana after World War Two has ended, the unrest and prejudice to those enemy countries is still rife. Life in the country is vividly described along with the trials and tragedies that occur there. I loved the writing in this story!! The characters were awesome and despite the sad ending it was a good read.

My rating: 4 ⭐

image of sea and ship sailing towards city on shore. blue letters across sea in dark blue read Letters from Cuba. top edge has pinkish sky, red explosion shape and grey shape on top left corner. city o shore has colourful buildings and palm trees.
A lovely story

Title: Letters from Cuba

Author: Ruth Behar

Genre: Fiction – historical

Publication details: Nancy Paulsen Books; NY, 2020

What this book is about: The Second World War is approaching Poland and life is not easy for the Jews living there. Esther’s father has fled to Cuba and has finally saved enough for her to be the first one to join him. It’s heartbreaking to be separated from her family, so Esther promises her sister that she’ll write down everything that happens until they’re reunited. And she does, recording both the good – the kindness of the Cuban people and her discovery of a valuable hidden talent – and the bad: the fact that Nazism has found a foothold even in Cuba.  Esther’s letters are full of her appreciation for her new island home, where she relishes the sunshine, and the beautiful language and music. They also reveal a resourceful girl with a knack for bringing people together and all the while working to bring her own family to Cuba before it’s too late. Based on Ruth Behar’s family history, this compelling story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit in the most challenging times.

My review: Told in the form of letters to her sister, Esther’s story of life in Cuba during those  years before the Second World War are both fascinating and heartwarming. I liked the strength and courage Esther showed as she helped her father in the rural community of Agramente. The descriptions of her harsh journey across the ocean is expertly described. What I loved the most, apart from the colourful cast of characters, was the diversity of cultures that made up Cuban life. From the African-Cubans descended from the slaves to those who immigrated from Europe and Aisian countries, the cultures are varied and multilayered. The richness of an amazing Cuba is revealed in every letter young Esther writes! An amazing read that is inspired by Ruth Behar’s own grandmother Esther’s immigrant story to Cuba!!

My rating: 5 ⭐

I know there are other stories out there, so if anyone has read any similar tween reads, I’d love to hear from you.

Stay safe and keep reading!!

Miss Mahee

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