Arminzerella's Reviews > Dead Girls Don't Write Letters

Dead Girls Don't Write Letters by Gail Giles
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** spoiler alert ** Sunny’s sister Jazz ran away to NYC and died in a fire. When Sunny heard, she was secretly glad, because Jazz had been the bane of her existence. Things were not easy after her sister’s death, however – her parents basically fell apart. Her father drowned his sorrows in alcohol and her mother retreated into a quiet refuge of psychiatric drugs. Sunny was left to handle things as best she could. Then, one day, a letter arrives – a letter from Jazz – which reveals that she’s not dead after all and that she’s coming home in a few days time.

The entire family waits with a mixture of trepidation and expectation, but the girl who shows up is definitely not Jazz. And they’re not sure what to do about it. Sunny and her father try to determine who she is and what kind of relationship she might have to Jazz (since she seems to know so much about her), and Sunny’s mother seems oblivious to the fact that Not-Jazz is definitely not her daughter.

Things come to a head when Sunny outs Not-Jazz, and then allows her to make an escape. Both parents deny that Not-Jazz ever existed and Sunny calls her grandmother for help. Grandma comes to stay and whips everyone into shape – including Sunny – whom she sends into therapy. No one seems to believe that Not-Jazz actually existed except as a phantom in Sunny’s head. Even Sunny starts to doubt herself. And then, just as she’s adjusting well to her new boarding school, she gets a letter…

This short, suspenseful novel only runs 126 pages, and is sure to delight reluctant readers looking for a fast-paced read. Lots of mystery and suspense here, and even a wee bit of tantalizing fright – is Not-Jazz dangerous? Plenty of surprises in store, so if you booktalk this one, don’t give them away. First there’s the letter from the dead girl, then she’s not actually dead, then she’s not actually Jazz, and then we’re not actually sure any of it even happened. Fascinating.
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