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Brandon Wolfe
A boy, with the power to see the future, saves people by writing them a letter and leaving it where they'll find it when they are in trouble
A teen with unique powers urges kindness and compassion in this YA melodrama with a paranormal edge. In the decade since his parents’ death in a car accident, Chace Peters, now sixteen, has received visions of other people’s heartbreaks. His friend, fellow orphan James, realizes that Chace is Letters, a mysterious New York City celebrity known for leaving encouraging notes for people on the brink of tragic decisions, when he spies Chace leaving a note for Sarah Crosse, a teenaged volunteer at the group home where they live. Chace explains his past, how the visions and others’ pain can leave him catatonic. As the local news–as well as Sarah, who is struggling with guilt over an accident involving her sister–increases its efforts to unmask Letters, Chace outs himself to Sarah’s father and makes a drastic choice that puts him in grave danger.

Wolfe’s story tugs on heartstrings while endowing its characters with convincing motivations and evincing welcome concern for people who need help. Emotions run high, with constant crises testing Chace and the rest of the cast. Between the bullying of Chace and James by another resident of the children’s home and moments of real physical danger, the troubles range from minor to life-ending. In between these tense moments, Sarah and Chace’s urging of kindness to solve problems bears fruit without being too pat.

Some elements might distract from the verisimilitude. Wolfe’s teenage characters often speak like world-weary adults, and the depiction of the child welfare system is quaintly archaic. Readers will need to suspend disbelief to accept Chace’s Christ-like open forgiveness while being able to take on physical traumas for others in order to heal them. Still, the writing is polished, the story is thoughtful, and the emotions charged and engaging. Readers open to those big feelings will appreciate this sensitive story and its touching message.

Takeaway: This intensely emotional story of orphans, visions, and compassion is a call for treating each other well.

Great for fans of: R. J. Palacio’s Wonder, Erin Stewart’s Scars Like Wings.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B+