Thursday, January 06, 2011

Dear Anjali by Melissa Glenn Haber

anjaliThis is the story of 12-year-old Meredith, whose best friend Anjali died suddenly from encephalitis. At Anjali’s funeral, Meredith is really irritated that people keep talking about what Anjali could have done with her life if she hadn’t died so young, when what they really should be doing is appreciating Anjali for who she was, but of course when she tries to put this into words, it just comes out sounding lame. The story is told in the form of letters that Meredith writes to Anjali, one every day, mostly written on her dad’s old typewriter, because “I really have to bludgeon my fingers to pound out the letters and that seems right because it DOES hurt and it SHOULD hurt to have to write the words…”  Meredith has a funny way of writing, even when she’s sad, and it really seems like she’s talking to her best friend. I like the way Meredith makes phrases she uses into trademarked sayings by typing TM after them: Normal Human Being TM, Expert-EaseTM, Katie “I am a Princess of PerfectionTM” Beals (speaking of her sister).  When invited to go to the movies with her crush, Noah Spivak, and her worst enemy, Wendy Mathinson, Meredith writes, “that’s when I told him I had more intriguing plans like being ripped to shreds by dobermans while having rusty spikes nailed into my head.” I was so happy that Meredith hated Wendy as much at the end of the book as she did at the beginning; she was still just as mean as ever. The story takes an interesting turn when Meredith finds out that Anjali wasn’t honest with her about her feelings for Noah Spivak, who Meredith has had a crush on since 5th grade.  Anjali always told her Noah was out of her league, and then confessed that she liked him, too, but she never told Meredith that she and Noah actually went to a party together (and at Wendy Mathinson’s house, no less!) and even kissed.  Meredith has to somehow reconcile this info with her own growing relationship with Noah.   Review by Stacy Church

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