Published: August 2019 by Fire & Ice Young Adult Books
Category: Young Adult, Teen Romance, Paranormal, Book Review
This novel is written in 3 parts. The first part, “Love Letters”, is a revised version of Passing Notes with an additional final chapter. It tells the story of the mysterious ghostly notes Mark finds that teach him to write a perfect love letter to impress the girl he adores.
In the second part,”So Near While Apart”, Mark and Bethany find an old shoebox full of love letters written between a young couple back in 1970, during the Vietnam war. It’s a sweet and touching story. Part 3, “Straight From Your Heart” keeps the story going from Bethany’s point of view as she and Mark struggle through the final months of their senior year in high school. She also has a ghost meddling with her, but this ghost isn’t as helpful and can be downright vindictive.
This is a full length novel incorporating an earlier novella—Passing Notes—which I read, so I’m including my thoughts here. Love Letters, the first part, highlights today’s changing world and how the ways of communication differ from not that many years ago. The art of letter writing is becoming obsolete along with the need for cursive writing, as computers figure largely in education and people use texting and emails to keep in touch. When Mark Dowd finds himself having to use a very old, odd-looking piece of furniture as a desk in his English class he notices a half hidden carving in the wood. A heart with the name Eileen stylishly carved inside. Mark tries to copy the carving, eventually with a marker pen on the back of his hand as he runs out of space on the paper.
I pressed my pencil tip into the carving and traced the heart and cursive letters. Some dust came up when I pulled my pencil out. Whoever had done this had carved it pretty deep, probably with a knife not a pencil. I wondered how long ago that could have been because kids got expelled these days for having plastic butter knives in their lunch boxes. We’re supposed to spread mayonnaise with our fingers, I guess. Anyway, I decided the kid with the pocketknife had to have carved this valentine at least a decade ago, if not two.
Mark has had a crush on Bethany for years. She seems to reciprocate his feelings but his texts and emails don’t seem to be having the desired effect. Ever since Mark drew the heart on his hand he’s been receiving hand written notes from an unknown source, with advice on how to win Bethany back by writing traditional love letters. When he realises who it is, he can hardly believe it but he’s more than grateful for the help.
Mark’s letters to Bethany give his hopes a boost and a tentative relationship begins to bloom. While Bethany is helping Mark to clear out his grandmother’s room after she passes away, they find an old shoebox full of love letters hidden in the back of the closet dating from the war in Vietnam. There are parallels between this couple and Mark and Bethany situation.
Bethany’s future lies in college and Mark has always planned to join the military. Will a long distance relationship work? Bethany has her doubts, which intensify as they near graduation and aren’t helped by spirit interference.
All The Love You Write is a complicated (in the emotional sense) teen romance, written well with sensitivity and some lovely imagery. Teenage uncertainty and self consciousness is captured effectively and the historical aspect was obviously researched. I enjoyed the paranormal thread but was surprised by certain reactions I wasn’t expecting. Including strong messages about love, this is an entertaining read that, for me, could have been tightened up more in the third part. But who wouldn’t love a hand written love letter as opposed to a quick text or email. The story has thought provoking content and it would be an awful shame if this creative skill and expressive method of communication is lost completely.
I chose to read and review All The Love You Writefor Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy kindly supplied by the author.
I am a multi-award winning author who primarily writes for tweens and teens. I’m an optimist at heart and love to write stories with themes of hope and growth. Among my books you’ll find Juniper – a teen environmental activist in the young adult series The Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy, Heidi – a girl who teaches her friends about autism awareness and not to bully people with special needs in No One Needed to Know, Mark – a boy clumsy at romance who is taught by a ghost to write love letters in my sweet romance novella Passing Notes, and Faith – a young princess determined to be more than a pampered prize for a prince in the original fairy tale The Royal Deal. Also look for my short stories and my newest teen adventure novel Lost on the Water, A Ghost Story coming out in June, 2018. When I’m not writing, I’m teaching or can be found strutting the stage in a local theater production in and around Nashville, TN.