YA Friday: National Letter Writing Day

Dear Reader,

There is always something special about the feeling of pen to paper and pouring out your thoughts to a friend or loved one. Because of emails and smartphones, sitting down and hand-writing a letter is something people do less and less. However, since National Letter Writing Day is celebrated on December 7, it is the perfect time to write a letter or even read a book about those that do!

The list below features young adult books where writing or receiving a letter moves the story and the character forward, revealing more about themselves or their one true love.

I hope you enjoy them! Write back soon!



Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, book cover

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I'm spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a "spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it's nothing I can't handle.

Love Letters to the Dead, book cover

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more -- though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was -- lovely and unique and deeply flawed -- can she begin to discover her path.

Letters to the Lost, book cover

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. Amid his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Dear Justyce, book cover

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Vernell LaQuan Banks Jr. is awaiting a court date in a juvenile detention center. Quan was with his friends when an interaction with a couple of police officers went sideways. Now a police officer is dead and Quan's memory of the incident is clouded by a panic attack. Although he didn't commit the crime, he knows that his previous arrest record makes him guilty in the eyes of not only the law, but also his mother. Quan's biggest supporter was Vernell LaQuan Banks Sr., but his father is in jail and can't help push Quan towards a different, brighter future. The one friend who seems to believe in him is Justyce McAllister. The two boys bonded over their fractured home lives and the love of reading. An older brother, Quan struggles to be there for his younger siblings even as his own support system slowly dissolves. Now Quan is examining all of the choices made for him, and by him, in a series of letters to Justyce. As his friendship with Justyce strengthens, he begins to see that healthier support systems can be rebuilt.

We Contain Multitudes, book cover

We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra

Jonathan Hopkirk and Adam "Kurl" Kurlansky are partnered in English class, writing letters to one another in a weekly pen pal assignment. With each letter, the two begin to develop a friendship that eventually grows into love. But with homophobia, bullying, and devastating family secrets, Jonathan and Kurl struggle to overcome their conflicts and hold onto their relationship...and each other.

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily, book cover

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle

When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger's, she's intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn't hurt that he's brilliant and beautiful.

When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?

Further Reading

Why We Broke Up, book cover
13 Little Blue Envelopes, book cover
I Will Always Write Back, book cover
Whisper to Me, book cover
Resurrection Girls, book cover
Dearest Josephine, book cover