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Young Adult Fiction 3284
heartfelt
Overall rating
 
5.0
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Reader reviewed by erica

Dear Zoe by Philip Beard is this author's debut book. And what a debut this book is in my opinion. This is a book to be read not once, but several times. And each time one can explore some new aspect of a sad tale from which not only the characters in this book can learn from but something which teaches all of us about life and loss.

Tess's youngest sister dies on September 11th but not as a result of the Twin Towers tragedy. Unfortunately While waiting for the school bus, Tess takes her eyes off her sister, Zoe for a couple of minutes and when Zoe wanders off and into the street, she is hit and killed by a reckless driver.

The death of a sibling is horrific at any age but for Tess the guilt is even greater. Zoe was Tess's half sister -- the child of her mother's second marriage and the beloved youngest child of this family. Tess is faced with unbearable agony and guilt over this event and asks herself many questions as the family tries to recover. First and foremost Tess asks herself how a devoted older sister will ever cope with her younger sisters death? And how does she cope with the fact that she was at fault for her sister's death when she turned away just for that moment? How will she ever cope with the fact that in that moment when she turned away she was finding out about the 9/11 tragedy in New York City? And the final question posed to her that day will forever haunt her when her mother asked, "Where's Zoe?" And most of all how will Tess cope with the fact that while the world at large is mourning a terrorist attack in Manhattan her sister's death goes almost unnoticed.

Dear Zoe is a letter to Zoe from Tess basically their first year without her. More than that thought this book tells the story, in frank and poignant passages, how Tess not only came to terms with Zoe's death but how she also came to terms with her part in this tragedy and to forgive herself. But for Tess to deal with her part in the tragedy and come to grips with this isn't easy. The book is filled with events during that long year and how Tess grows up and ventures into almost another world as she goes to live with her negligent father and finds herself falling in love with the boy next door who may or may not be right for Tess. While Dear Zoe deals with the tragedy of Zoe's death, in a sense it deals more with Tess's coming of age as she deals with the love for her lost sister, for the love her family provides for one another, the love her errant father shows towards her and Tess's. And as painful as it is for us to read this book, we know that Tess will come out of this overwhelmingly sad even much stronger and wiser for knowing about the power of love and forgiveness.

In many respects this book, with a strong young female adolescent character, reminded me of the main character from The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard and Katie Nash from the Durable Goods trilogy by Elizabeth Berg. Each of these books provided me with characters I felt I knew well and ones I won't ever forget.



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