Review: Hope in the Mail

Hope in the Mail is a book of reflection on the writing life by a young adult author who’s written 30 books in her career. As a writer myself, it’s inspiring to read how she got into the craft and her (long) process of becoming a published author.

There are reflections of her life growing up that she relates to her writing career, about learning patience and hard work, going through tragedy, and how some of her past got put into her work. She begins with talking about writing her first fiction novel and sending it out to publisher after publisher, and how for 10 years her hope was in the mail… awaiting a letter from one of them who wanted to publish her.

What I really enjoyed reading about the most were the seeds that inspired her characters or what drove her characters in their stories. It was definitely a comfort to see that it’s not just my characters that take on a life of their own in my mind, often overruling my plans for them. Apparently it’s something that a lot of fiction writers deal with. I’ve always enjoyed learning about how a story came to be – what inspired it, what changed during the process, what troubles came with it… all that fun stuff.

This book is full of Van Draanen’s sharp wit and humor in her reflections and though I’ve only ever read one of her books, now I want to read much more. Not only do I like her writing style and her book, Flipped, but now I am a Wendelin fan for life! I have already checked out a few of the Sammy Keyes books from a nearby library, as her reflections on writing that series fascinated me!

If you are a writer yourself or just a fan of Van Draanen’s books, this is one that you will not want to miss!

Rating: 5 stars

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