In the manner of his #1 bestselling SUZANNE'S DIARY FOR NICHOLAS, James Patterson writes a beautiful story in SAM'S LETTERS TO JENNIFER. Contrary to the initial impression that the letters are love letters from a man to a woman, Patterson's correspondence is from Jennifer's grandmother, Samantha Stanford. Reeling from her husband Danny's accidental death a year and a half before, Jennifer responds to a call from the family's minister in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
"It's Sam," he said. "…she's in a coma."
Her childhood memories of summers spent at the lake with her grandparents are treasures. Jennifer grabs her laptop computer, a must for a newspaper columnist, and heads for Lake Geneva. Sam would not be alone. After her first hospital visit, Jennifer realizes that Sam might die. Despondent, Jennifer returns to the lake house to remain between trips to the hospital. There, she discovers a pile of letters, addressed to her, written in her grandmother's hand.
In response to Jennifer's tragic loss, the first page concludes with a bombshell. Sam says, "The truth is, I never really loved Charles." Love, and how to find it, is the primary theme throughout the stack of papers that Jennifer gradually opens during her stay at the lake.
She is distracted with the renewal of a childhood friendship with Brendan Keller, who is spending the summer at the lake, next door at his uncle's house. Patterson weaves their history in the story through easy bits of conversation, a relief from cumbersome background narrative. Jennifer's preoccupation with her job gives way to her responsibility to her grandmother. In addition, she opens her heart to a new relationship with an old friend.
Patterson uses the letters to his advantage, divulging sparse bits, one at a time, about Sam's disastrous marriage to Charles until his death. Her long-kept secret reveals that the power of love can be enduring. SAM'S LETTERS TO JENNIFER is a feel-good book that reads easily and fast. It is two love stories conjoined by the letters. A prologue introduces Jennifer's dilemma, and an epilogue ties the loose ends together.
James Patterson has writing credits in numerous genres, from mysteries to moving love stories. He'll even release a book for the juvenile market later this year. If he can continue to touch the heart by his words, he'll succeed in any genre. SAM'S LETTERS TO JENNIFER is a box-of-tissues winner.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 23, 2011
Sam's Letters to Jennifer