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Holmes, Sara. Letters from Rapunzel.

HOLMES, Sara. Letters from Rapunzel. HarperCollins. 184p. c2007. 0-06-078073-8. $15.99. J The publishers suggest this book for readers age 8-12. Because Rapunzel (aka Cadence) is a brilliant young teenager trying to make sense of her father's mental illness, it seems to me this story is best for readers 11-14, especially articulate girls. This is a first novel by the author and the winner of the 2004 Ursula Nordstrom Fiction Contest.

The format of the story is a series of letters written by Cadence to an unknown person at a local post office box--she signs the letters with her assumed name, Rapunzel. After her father is hospitalized, she finds a torn letter he had written to this PO address and decides to continue the correspondence even though she has no idea who the recipient is. A bit awkward, but it works rather like a journal or diary entries. Part of Cadence's problem is that no one is telling her details about her father's illness; she sees herself as Rapunzel trapped in a tower and isolated, hoping someone will come along to "rescue" her and set her free. Cadence writes frequently about her school experiences, her frustration with her mother, her fears about her father. Some of the letters are wildly funny, especially those around school situations. A counselor gets Cadence tested to discover that she belongs in the gifted and talented class (Cadence calls this a class for deviants); this is a surprise to many since she is such a poor student, with difficulty following instructions and paying attention in class.

When all is said and done, I believe this is a story as much about a family in crisis as it is about understanding a girl such as Cadence whose imagination and ability with language set her so far apart from her classmates. She is endearing, and Holmes does a good job bringing her to life for her readers.

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

Claire Rosser, KLIATT
COPYRIGHT 2007 Kliatt
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Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Rosser, Claire
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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