Booktalk: Letters From the Inside by John Marsden

Okay, so the first thing you should know is that Letters From the Inside by John Marsden is one of my top ten favorite teen novels.  Scratch that — this book is one of my top FIVE favorite teen novels.  But the second thing you should know is that this is NOT one of my favorite booktalks.

I’m not sure why this booktalk falls below my usual expectations, but I have two theories.  The first is that because I love this book so much, every time I booktalk it and the kids in the class don’t fight each other tooth and nail to read it, I assume that I’ve done a lousy job booktalking it.  My second theory is that because I’m being so careful trying not to reveal the scope of the secrets and lies that the two girls are hiding from each other, my description of the story is so vague that it doesn’t entice the listeners enough.  The challenge of a good booktalk is in revealing enough to entice the readers without revealing too much to spoil the story, and sometimes it’s tricky achieving that balance.

If you learn nothing else from this episode, it’s that each and every one of you should have copies of this book on your library shelves.  And that while you can always read this book yourself and then recommend it to your readers one-on-one, booktalking it without giving away vital plot points might be a challenge.  Just use my booktalk as a starting point … and then write something better!


Tracey put an ad in the paper one day, and Mandy answered it.  Now they’re pen pals, on their way to becoming best friends.  They both have so much to talk about; they share their stories, their hopes, their dreams, and their fears.  No two girls have ever been closer than Tracey and Mandy – or so it seems.

But here’s the reality; one girl is hiding part of the truth, and the other girl is hiding the whole truth.  And when too many secrets and lies build up, the truth will come out.  Tracey and Mandy will soon have their friendship – and their lives – put to the ultimate test.

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