Intriguing teen suspense novella: “Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters” by Gail Giles

Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters by Gail Giles; published Sept 1, 2004; pb 9780689866241, hb 9780756942908.

If you’re looking for a quick-read psychological thriller or maybe a title to give a non-avid reader that’s exciting enough to perhaps make them seek out books a little more often, Gail Giles’ Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters is that book.

 DGDWL tells us the story of black sheep Sunny Reynolds, a sullen and troubled teen with a non-functioning depressed mother (who always reminds Sunny about how her sister was a golden child that could do everything well, unlike Sunny) and an uninvolved alcoholic father.  At the beginning of this story, Sunny finds a small yellow envelope in the mailbox from her sister Jazz. The writing looks like Jazz’ but how can that be, since Jazmine died in an apartment fire several months ago?

The person who claims to be “Jazz” begs forgiveness for not contacting the family sooner and tells them she’s coming home. While her mother and father are, of course, over-the-moon on Jazz’ arrival day, Sunny is at first apprehensive, since the “golden child” Jazmine was actually very cruel and manipulative toward Sunny. Jazz seems to have changed her ways and is being kind, so maybe things are going to be okay. As time progresses, however, Sunny becomes suspicious – this girls seems to resemble her sister, and seems to know some family secrets, but Jazz doesn’t quite seem to be Jazz, and the kind façade begins falling away when Sunny starts questioning her.

This story just begs you to keep turning the pages to find out what’s really going on as Sunny and her father (who also realizes this person isn’t really Jazz) investigate: if it’s not Jazz, who is this person who’s pretending to be her sister…and why?

Recommended for grades 9+.

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