On My Bookshelf: Mailbox by Nancy Freund

May 09, 2016

Part Esperanza from The House on Mango Street and part Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, Sandy from Mailbox by Nancy Freund is a character to love. She is a kind, observant young girl who doesn't let anyone push her around. The vignettes in the novel perfectly capture the moments in her childhood and young adulthood. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: In 76 funny and poignant linked vignettes, 13-year-old agnostic protagonist Sandy Drue launches a personal quest. Her family has moved from New York City to Small Town USA -- not an easy move, especially for Sandy's artist/intellectual mother who watches Sandy and her brother adapt to their new community and feels more and more like she's hosting foreign exchange students who never leave. Sandy loves this idea, both hosting foreign students and traveling the world.

At 13, she is in-between -- between her mother's mindset and her own, between childhood and adulthood, between geographical and cultural divisions, and in the 1970s, between political conflicts in American history and a changing economy. She is searching for the Meaning of Life, and she thinks she finds it. She is finally ready to write her book. The result is a compulsively readable tale of the mysteries and mischief, struggles and victories of growing up -- a fantastic piece of contemporary fiction as true to life as a careful documentary.

Why I liked it: Mailbox is written almost as a stream on consciousness as Sandy shares stories from her life and advice on how to best live one's life. At times, the novel is reminiscent of The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, especially the scenes that focus on older men leering at young girls.
Part Esperanza from The House on Mango Street and part Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, Sandy from Mailbox by Nancy Freund is a character to love. She is a kind, observant young girl who doesn't let anyone push her around. The vignettes in the novel perfectly capture the moments in her childhood and young adulthood. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

At other times, the main character reminded me of Scout (Jean Louise Finch) from To Kill A Mockingbird. Sandy stands up for herself and doesn't let anyone push her around. Sandy's parents are very free thinking and her older brother is highly sensitive, both of which cause Sandy to be particularly observant of the world around her and kinds to others. The lack of "girl drama" that takes place in the book was refreshing.

Classroom application: The novel would be most appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students as the novel follows the main character from about the age of eight and her switch from one elementary school to another to the age of thirteen and her entrance into middle school. Selected chapters could be used as mentor texts for showing how to vividly capture a memory or "explode a moment."

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Mailbox for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:



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