Told entirely through letters, diary entries, emails, and other writing, Moriarty’s novel introduces us to Emily, Lydia, and Cassie—all students at Ashbury High—who begin writing to their Brookfield High counterparts through the schools’ organized pen pal project. Readers learn quickly that each girl has her own writing style and that at two of the Brookfield boys (Seb and Charlie) seem to be smitten with Lydia and Emily. The only trouble is Cassie’s pen pal, Matthew, a shady character who first sends her short, threatening letters and then becomes strangely sweet toward her. Nobody can figure out why Cassie keeps writing to him, but after she has a crushing meet-up with Matthew, Cassie discovers—with the help of her friends and the Brookfield guys—that he hasn’t been honest about his identity. All could be ended there, but when Charlie helps take revenge and Brookfield High gets mysteriously vandalized, the group comes together to deliver justice and save the endangered pen pal project.
It’s not just that the characters were so fully developed I’m not entirely sure Emily, Lydia, and Cassie aren’t real Australian girls. Or that the story is equal parts touching and laugh-out-loud hilarious. It’s the voice.
“Also, I have seen on TV that you can get head transplants and it seems to me that it is a tragedy if you are bald and you don’t get a head transplant. My dad agreed with me heartily, and with much joy, when I pointed out that Lydia’s dad should get a head transplant.”