Review: Love Letters by Anne Cassidy
I purchased this one for fifty cents from the bargain bin at my local secondhand bookstore, took it home and let it sit on my to-read pile for a very long time. Pity. Love Letters may be a easy-to-read teen drama but it also offers some very clever and incredible insight into the fragilities of the human mind.
The novel opens with seventeen-year-old Vicky. Vicky is a nice girl, is academically bright though a bit innocent for her age and has never had a boyfriend. Imagine her surprise, not to mention, delight, when she receives a neat blue envelope containing a short love letter from a secret admirer. She and her best friend Jen start to speculate on who the admirer may be. Vicky hopes that it isn't Ricky, a boy from her class, but instead Chris, Jen's older brother who she has admired from afar for some time. And then the notes continue, slowly getting more and more familiar. Vicky receives them addressed to her at home, at her college and at her job at a local supermarket. Through misunderstanding and misadventure she learns that not only are neither Chris nor Ricky the authors and that something far more sinister involving an older man she barely knows is afoot ...
This one was an easy read, but I loved the insight that the author had into the human mind. Vicky often overreacts to the actions of other people around her, making her the perfect target for a predator. By the time that she discovers who her stalker is, it's too late for anyone to believe her story and her stalker has a solid alibi. There are also two interesting examples of where the lead characters fear about other people and their intentions get the better of her--when Ricky visits the supermarket, she falsely assumes that he is there to see her, even though he doesn't approach her, and later assumes that he must be the author of the letters after he tries to talk to her at a party. Later, Vicky makes a fool of herself when she confronts him and is laughed at by her peers. The second and more interesting example comes as a flashback. When Vicky was eleven she thought that a boy from her neighbourhood was following her, because she used to see him around everywhere. She eventually complained to her mother, who went around and spoke to the boys mother. It turns out that he kept seeing Vicky everywhere and assumed that she was following him. In other words, there was nothing sinister afoot, just a coincidence.
The scenes, along with Vicky's inability to see that Chris isn't interested in her, help showcase the characters deep imagination, innocence and fears, all factors which make her the perfect prey for the real stalker. No one is going to take the complaints of a girl who is so clearly confused about other people and their motives seriously. And her stalker does use some very clever alibis.
Finally, the stalker (whose identity I wont reveal,) is caught and the authors talent for understanding the human condition is shown again. The author depicts him as an ordinary man who is suffering from a mental illness, who is eventually treated and sorry for his actions and whose new life will never quite be the same ...
This one is a brilliant read. In a world where the world stalker can be thrown around far too liberally, it's nice to read something that highlights the difference while offering a sympathetic view of Vicky's innocence and her predicament.