Letters in Cardboard Boxes
Author: Abby Slovin
Letters In Cardboard
Boxes tells the story of an eccentric grandmother and her granddaughter
alongside a series of fantastical letters they once exchanged. Their
letters once traversed the East River to help Parker escape the
loneliness of a childhood without her globe-trekking parents and
communicate during her turbulent teenage years. Now, nearly a decade
later, Parker begins to rediscover the evidence of this letter writing
tradition, as well as the family’s untold stories and, unexpectedly,
letters from her grandmother’s own youth that paint a very different
portrait of the woman who raised her.
I feel like the summary doesn't entirely encapsulate what really made this book work for me.
The letters are an important part of it, as they show the threads of Parker and her grandmother's relationship. Seeing the bond the two had anchors the novel before we begin to truly delve into who Parker is. She's a lonely, tired, going-with-the-motions woman on the verge of thirty, and she's hasn't got much to show for her life. Her grandmother is a wonderfully eccentric woman, but she's fallen ill to Alzheimer's (or something similar) and the struggle Parker goes through as she deals (and doesn't deal) with starting to lose the only person in her life who matters is agonizing and wonderful to read.
It was slow going at first, but I loved reading about Parker, from her initial denial to her depression to her slowly beginning to understand and deal with everything. She doesn't just deal with her grandmother's disease, she has her own mid-life crisis to deal with, and she's just -- she's a mess. I've never found myself wanting to walk into a book and hug the character more than I did with Parker.
Letters in Cardboard Boxes is a slow read going in, but it's so worth it for the character work alone. Parker isn't the liveliest or most interesting of people ever, but reading everything she goes through is just...fascinating.