Finished PS I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy. (In the interest of full disclosure, Jen is my friend and I was the first person to beta read this book—which I did twice—and I am in the acknowledgments, which may or may not have made me cry.)
Summary (from Goodreads):
“In this epistolary middle-grade debut novel, a girl who’s questioning her sexual orientation writes letters to her sister, who was sent away from their strict Catholic home after becoming pregnant.
Eleven-year-old Evie is heartbroken when her strict Catholic parents send her pregnant sister away to stay with a distant great-aunt. All Evie wants is for her older sister to come back. But when her parents forbid her to even speak to Cilla, she starts sending letters. Evie writes letters about her family, torn apart and hurting. She writes about her life, empty without Cilla. And she writes about the new girl in school, June, who becomes her friend, and then maybe more than a friend.
As she becomes better friends with June, Evie begins to question her sexual orientation. She can only imagine what might happen if her parents found out who she really is. She could really use some advice from Cilla. But Cilla isn’t writing back.”
Jen told me that the final product was different and better from the two versions I’d read. (The second version was different and better from the first, but I was still very skeptical. How could this book be any better? Well. Somehow it is. (Witchcraft?)
This novel touches on almost everything in its 310 pages—friendship, family, faith, crushes, teenage pregnancy…and it’s all handled with dignity and respect. Nothing is gratuitous and nothing feels added for shock value. Evie grapples with her faith and spends time trying to figure out what she believes (as opposed to what she’s been raised to believe) and ultimately continues to find comfort in the church, even when she’s mad at God (and her parents).
This is a story that trusts kids to draw their own conclusions. Who’s right in this? Who’s wrong? If the wrong things are done, can they still be done for the right reasons? Are some things unforgivable? (These questions will make more sense in the context of the story when you read it, but they’re things to think about anyway, right?)
This would be a good book to read with your kids or as part of a book club. Great discussions are sure to follow. Highly, highly recommended.