When I first reviewed for possible purchase The Letters by Luanne Rice and Joseph Monninger, I was intrigued by the craft: A story told in letters from husband and wife with a male author creating the husband and a female author creating the wife. The book did not disappoint.
It tells the story of Sam and Hadley, a loving couple who lost their only son in a tragic airplane crash in Alaska. The trauma of grief tears at the fabric of their marriage and they begin divorce proceedings. Sam goes to Alaska to visit the accident scene; Hadley goes to a lonely cabin by the sea to paint. As the letters go back and forth between them, grief, anger, forgiveness, redemption, and finally hope and love are worked out in words. Simple plot.
But the overall effect of the book was more complex. As a new and somewhat reluctant visitant in the cyber world, timorously edging into email correspondance, discussion forums, and chat, I am relearning something Renaissance People forgot they knew. The written word is powerful, emotive, and creates connections that are more spiritual than intellectual. Sam and Hadley take the cyber-savvy reader on a familiar journey, confessional and revealing.
Rice and Monninger have taken the stuff of late night emails, added a plot (something real life seems to lack), and allowed us to read over their characters' shoulders as connection is made. Words knit souls together with alchemy that goes beyond mere physical chemistry to make minds one. The authors have done what fiction writers do best, take us out onto the ice of our social interaction and show us the cracks and fissures--and the heroism of those who, when the ice breaks and floats out to sea, find their way home.