Caite Dolan-Leach’s Dead Letters

A cat-and-mouse suspense novel following a young woman as she sifts through the chaos left by her twin sister – whose death is cloaked in mystery.

Nearly two years ago, Ava Antipova left her family’s failing vineyard in the Finger Lakes to learn about literature in Paris, but she was really just running away – from an absentee father who left when she was young, from a critical mother who was losing her mind to dementia, from her twin, Zelda, and the man who broke her heart.  After receiving an email from her mother about Zelda’s untimely death – she was burned alive in their barn – Ava leaves her life in Paris behind, returning to her family home to once again clean up Zelda’s mess.  Soon after she’s back, Ava starts receiving messages from Zelda, clues as to what really happened.  Convinced that her sister is still alive, Ava races against time to put all of the pieces together and in the process, rediscovers part of herself she thought had been lost forever.

When I first started reading Dead Letters, I had trouble getting into it and almost immediately put it down, but I’d been surprised by books recently, so I decided to give it a few more pages, and I’m so glad that I did.  Dead Letters isn’t just another suspense novel, and it isn’t at all paranormal either (I dislike anything paranormal).  The story isn’t about the ending, whether Zelda is in fact alive or dead, rather, it’s about the journey.  Ava was always running away from her problems, whether physically or mentally through alcohol – and what Zelda has done really forces Ava to reevaluate her life and discover her identity.  Despite the fact that she hadn’t spoken to Zelda in the two years she’d been living in Paris, Ava could never really see herself as anything other than one half of a whole.  Ava was the smart one, the reserved one, the one who cared too much about what others thought.  Whereas Zelda was the rebel, she was the drama queen, she never censored herself or her needs.

Dead Letters makes you think about yourself – the labels that you have kept, and the ones you have thrown away.  When we’re younger, we’re so much less afraid and more willing to take risks and try new things.  But, as we age, we pair down our personalities and interests, and focus on specializing a few traits rather than a ton.  Here, Dolan-Leach unlocks the door to our childhood so that we can, once again, rediscover our true selves.

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Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach. Random House. Paperback Edition Feb. 2018.
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Lauren Graham’s Someday, Someday, Maybe

In Lauren Graham’s debut novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, we follow Franny Banks, as she tries to make ends meet in this cute, coming of age story about deadlines, crushes and what it means to be a struggling actor. Franny has a self-imposed deadline that ends in six months, yet all she has to show for herself is one commercial, a waitressing job she can’t stand, and a depleting bank account. With an agent that won’t return her phone calls, will Franny be able to meet her deadline, or will she have to return home to her dad and figure out a plan B?

What’s great about this novel is that you don’t have to be interested in acting or in “the business” to relate to Franny, because the real issue that she is struggling with is growing up and learning about herself. We have all been there. We have all struggled (some more than others) to get the job we want, struggled to be noticed by that person we love, struggled with our identity, and in Someday, Someday, Maybe, Graham reminds us of this. But she also reminds us that if we keep persisting and don’t give up, we can achieve life changing opportunities. Anything is possible.

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