Winner of the First Horizon Award for superior work by a debut writer, Letters In Cardboard Boxes tells the story of an eccentric grandmother and her granddaughter, alongside a series of fantastical letters they once exchanged. Their letters traversed the East River to help Parker escape the loneliness of a childhood without her globe-trekking parents and communicate during her turbulent teenage years. Now, nearly a decade later, Parker begins to rediscover this letter writing tradition, as well as the family’s untold stories and, unexpectedly, letters from her grandmother’s own youth that paint a very different portrait of the woman who raised her.
Letters carries us through the experience of loss and the process of coping with life’s unexpected twists and turns. Through unusual and bold characters, the story moves through some of its heavier themes with honesty and humor.
August 21, 1988
I’m on the high seas, the master of my own ship. My crew and I have sailed deep into the Inside Passage of Alaska! The glaciers are the deepest blue you can dream of. You would not believe the sights. This morning, I awoke to the sound of a whale outside my window. He blew water up from his blowhole to say hello. I’ve named him Fatty, so if you see him in the East River, tell him I say hello!
I miss you to pieces, Parker. I cannot wait to get back from my voyage and tell you all about it. (Of course, if you miss me, you can come out to Brooklyn today and we can go to Coney Island for Nathan’s hot dogs! Yum Yum!)
March 15, 1989
I’m here in the Southwest, near Santa Fe, where an old Native American village still stands. Their tents have dream catchers inside, protecting the Natives from bad dreams at night. I’ll bring you back a few to hang in your room, to protect you from the bad dreams you’ve been having. I’m confident it will work!
Will you sleep over this weekend? I just got some dream catchers for your room here also! I think we could all use some better sleep!
All my love, Grandma
November 3, 1992
I’m thinking of you while I’m here in Africa. Mom and Dad are here too and they’ve taken me on a tour of their research site. It’s amazing to see the archeologists digging in the sand, looking for something buried so long ago. I hope they find it. Mom and Dad watch them and take notes.
I’ve been spending a lot of time with the animals in the desert and I wonder how they survive with no water. I guess I’ll find out soon.
I’ll be home soon. Can we go to Central Park on Friday?
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