A Letter From Luisa, by Rowena Mohr

Dear M
Hi There
Okay, this is weird! This is, in fact, a little creepy. I don’t think I can do this. Please don’t be offended. It’s not that I don’t’ want to write you a letter – it’s more that I don’t quite know what to say or where to start. I mean, this was Jane’s idea. She thinks maybe there’s a whole lot of stuff I wish I could talk to you about or something. She said it might make me feel better. But that seems a bit dumb. I just write a letter and suddenly everything will be okay? If that was the case everybody would be doing it. The universe would be choked with letters. People wouldn’t have time to go o work or have babies or go shopping – they’d be too busy writing letters to solve all their problems instantaneously.

Luisa is in control. It’s a tight balance, with school and friends and family and crushes, but she’s got it sorted. Until it goes horribly wrong. A Letter from Luisa is written in a series of letters from Luisa to an unknown person. The reader is aware that Luisa has been involved in something going wrong, and this is her attempt to give her side of the story. Her father is a musician, writing jingles. Her younger sister is a dreamy ballerina. Luisa’s best friend is a Japanese exchange student Meko, who is trying to find her own place at Motherwell High. Jet Lucas is a rock musician and Luisa’s crush. Then there’s a pair of bullies and Danny Baldassarro, who just won’t get out of her way. Luisa unravels her version of the time leading up to the catastrophe formerly known as the Motherwell High Twilight Fete.

A Letter from Luisa is told in first person, in the form of letters. It is only towards the end that the reader is told who the letters are addressed to. Luisa is a rich character who seems to be a fairly normal, if occasionally manic teenager. Only gradually does she reveal some of the cracks in the façade. Luisa is a teenager desperately trying to hold her world together. If only she could control events around her, she could manage everything. But like most teenagers on the brink of a new world, her vision and experience are nascent, and sometimes flawed. There are themes of bullying, love, friendship, and grief. A Letter from Luisa moves at a breakneck pace towards its conclusion, which although hinted at throughout is only gloriously, hysterically revealed in the final pages. A fun read, while dealing with real issues. Recommended for mid-secondary readers.

A Letter from Luisa (Girlfriend Fiction)

A Letter from Luisa (Girlfriend Fiction), Rowena Mohr,
Allen & Unwin 2009
ISBN: 9781741758740

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

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