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Letters from the inside / John Marsden.

By: Marsden, John, 1950-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Chippendale N.S.W : Macmillan, 1991Description: 146 p. ; 22 cm.ISBN: 0732907381; 0330273140 (pbk.).Subject(s): Premiers' Reading Challenge : 9-10DDC classification: A823.3
Item type Current location Collection Call number Status Date due Barcode Item reserves
Junior Sydenham Library (DIY)
Teenage Fiction T MARSD Available I4049365
Total reserves: 0

For teenagers.

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

August 1 OK wise guy, you asked for it, you want to keep snooping around my life I'll tell you the truth but you're not going to like it.  You heard of Garrett? Well if you haven't I'll tell you.  It's a maximum security place, where they put you if you're bad, and if you're worse than bad they put you in A Block, and that's where I am and that's where I've been for eleven months and that's where they're going to try to keep me for a long time yet, but not if I have any say they won't.  So now fuck off and get out of my life. *** Aug 10 Well, that sure worked didn't it? Thought it would.  Now you know why I never told you in the first place.  So thanks for proving me right. *** August 15 Tracey, that's not fair.  I've started about ten letters since you finally wrote, but I couldn't finish any.  None of them seemed right.  I don't know if this'll finish in the rubbish tin like the others.  I don't have a clue what to say.  Your letter blew me away.  I admit that.  But at least now I can guess why you put the ad in, and I can see why you didn't tell the truth about where you were. I looked up Garrett in a telephone directory and a street directory and I've been trying to find out a bit about it.  But it's not easy. I honestly don't know what to write.  I think all I can do is send this off and hope you'll answer.  And I really hope you do. See you, Mandy *** Aug 19 I don't know what to write either.  I only put the ad in as a joke, one day when I was sitting round with nothing to do (like every day).  I never meant it to end up like this. Keep writing if you want.  But don't expect much back.  I wouldn't know what to say. Tracey *** August 24 Dear Tracey, Thanks for writing back.  I'm still in a state of shock, I admit, but something makes me keep writing.  I'm curious about you of course--don't be offended--it's just that I thought I was getting to know you and now I find I don't know you at all.  And I do feel ripped-off, because there I was pouring my heart out to you, and now I wonder if you've been laughing at me and showing my letters to your mates so they could all share the joke. I don't think you would, mind you, because I still think I know you a bit, but it's a matter of trust I guess. So what's the true story? I thought I'd bring you up to date with what's happening in my life, but it's harder now.  It seems so insignificant compared to the kind of life you must have.  And it's so long since I wrote you a 'proper' letter, I can't remember what I told you.  I think I was still with George then.  That does seem a long time ago.  Anyway, he dropped me a while back, no special reason, we're still good mates, blah blah blah. So, what can I write that's going to interest you? I don't know any more.  I've got the same problem as you--I don't know what to say either. I hope you write again but. Mandy *** Dear Mandy, Don't you understand? The reason I put the ad in? I wanted to know what a real life was like.  I wanted to know what normal people do.  That's why I liked your letters.  That's what I want you to write about.  I wanted you to write about your family and school and all that shit.  I wanted you to be normal, the world's most normal person.  That's why I hated hearing about your brother, because when you started talking about him, and the fights and everything, you were sounding like me or anyone else here.  And I didn't want that. Twenty-four hours a day is enough. So that's all you have to write about.  It's easy for you. And I don't show your letters to anyone, although I don't blame you for wondering.  And I don't laugh at them.  In my twelve months (nearly) yours (and the other ones from the ad) are the only letters I've had. You asked a while back about my Nanna essay.  Well, seeing you asked, I'll tell you: it got an A+ and the teacher said she was going to enter it in a competition.  See, I can do some things.  And not everything I told you was bullshit. Have you told Cheryl and them about me? About being in Garrett I mean? Tracey Excerpted from Letters from the Inside by John Marsden All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Publishers Weekly Review

A chilling psychological drama plays out in the correspondence between two teenage girls. "The heart-wrenching conclusion will exert its power long after this book is read," said PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-A powerful book, set in Australia. Mandy answers Tracey's ad in a magazine and the girls, both going on 16, become pen pals. The fluff of their early letters depicts two teens who are almost indistinguishable from one another. Soon, before these lively yet innocuous exchanges become tedious, there are hints that Tracey is hiding something. She reveals that in truth, she is in a maximum security unit of a correctional institution for an unspeakable, unnamed crime. She is big, she is tough, and she is scared. The universal, brutal truths of young women living together behind bars is made perfectly clear by her blunt descriptions. Mandy's life, compared to her friend's, is almost idyllic. Her timid complaints about her brother's violent outbursts are easy to ignore. His poor academics, hot temper, and collections of weapons and Rambo posters are rationalized away by Mandy's loving but overworked parents, as are her fears of being in the house alone with him. Then, mysteriously, Mandy's letters stop. The story is over. The tragedy of this novel is that these bright young people are not hopeless. Their lives are salvageable, if only someone with the power to help would listen. Perhaps Marsden intends, through shock, to sensitize his readers to the real-life tragedies hidden behind white-picket fences and masks of toughness; perhaps therein lies the hope. Consisting entirely of the correspondence of the two girls for exactly one year, this book is also an anatomy of a friendship. It will draw its readers in completely and cut them off with a jolt. Purchase it, read it, recommend it to mature teens and to adults.-Margaret Cole, Oceanside Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Gr. 8-12. In this Australian twist to an answer to the personal ads, two teenage girls begin a correspondence that gradually reveals more than either young woman wants known. Both Tracey's and Mandy's initial letter writing focuses on fictitious charmed lives--Mandy, on her best friend Cheryl, her nameless dog, and the brother whom she calls "Idiot"; Tracey, on her even more perfect life of wealthy, loving parents, ideal older siblings, and a horse. Each succeeding letter strips away the girls' facades. Mandy's brother is frighteningly violent; Tracey is in prison. Marsden does a maddening job of providing just enough information; the letter-writing format allows him to induce this suspense with full credibility. The reader never knows what Tracey's crime is nor learns much about Mandy's brother's violence. Be prepared for utter despair as teens finish this book, however. The ending is frustratingly honest and overwhelmingly powerful. ~--Frances Bradburn

Horn Book Review

After Mandy admits to her pen pal Tracey that she is struggling with an abusive older brother, she eventually discovers that Tracey has been lying about her seemingly perfect life and that she is in an institution for juvenile criminals. The characters are vivid, each developed through her choice of language and response to the other girl's life. This is a true horror novel -- about horrible things that happen to young people and their very real reactions and frailties. From HORN BOOK 1994, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Book Review

In this haunting epistolary novel, two Australian teenagers try to discover the truth about each other and themselves. For Mandy and Tracey, who become pen pals when Mandy answers Tracey's ad in a magazine, the truth is not always easy to discern. At the beginning of their correspondence, it seems that Tracey's life is idyllic: She has a loving family, two gorgeous boyfriends, and more money than she can spend. Mandy, on the other hand, is solidly lower-middle class with a frightening and violent older brother. But when Mandy discovers that Tracey has been lying about where she goes to school, she looks back over their entire correspondence and catches other inconsistencies in Tracey's letters. She pushes Tracey to reveal her true identity and is unprepared when what she discovers is far more unbelievable than Tracey's lies had been: Tracey is in a maximum security prison for girls for a crime that she refuses to name. Mandy decides not to abandon her friend, and she and Tracey begin the long process of getting to know each other. With Mandy's help, Tracey is sure that she can rehabilitate herself, but what if she is forced to do it alone? Proof that originality need not be reserved for adults. Startling. (Fiction. 12+)

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