This book is really well writen. I love the form of Letters, Journals, and e-mails. Keeps you wondering what form will come next. In the end, it kind of seems like the author did not know what to write, but it did all come together. Overall, this book has comedy, romance (Nice love-hate-love relationship), and adventure (The trouble that they get into at school). This book does have some references more for an older group, and some swearing. I would think this book is good for ages 14 and up. Maybe a mature 12-13 year old too. Make sure to check out this GREAT read. I am going to look into some other books by Jaclyn Moriarty for sure!
THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS by Jaclyn Moriarty has an interesting format. It is written entirely without dialogue. "What?" you say. It's true. The entire novel uses letters, diaries, journals, emails, and transcripts to tell the story. It's quite intriguing.
Three best friends, Cass, Emily, and Lydia, embark on an adventure that begins as a pen pal assignment in their English class. They each end up with male pen pals from their rival, Brookfield High. It quickly becomes evident which of the girls is writing, as the voices of the girls are quite distinct. I had a little more difficulty identifying two of the boys and remembering which girl they were writing to. The third boy's voice was quite distinctive.
Through a series of secret assignments the year 10 pen pals get to know one another, challenging each other to attempt various tasks. Just as they become comfortable with one another, feelings get hurt and the letters come to a halt. One pair of letters becomes downright frightening. When a true identity is uncovered, letters resume with a flurry of intensity, until vandalism begins at both schools and all students are ordered to stop writing. When the three girls are summoned to the office, they must rely on their pen pals to uncover the truth.
I would recommend this book to my students. The voices are fun and authentic. Although the pacing of the book is somewhat slow at the beginning, probably due to trying to keep the characters straight, it picks up significantly as they forge relationships with their pen pals. The ending is both surprising and satisfying.
What's not to love about The Year of Secret Assignments?! Jacyln Moriarty's writing style occasionally put me in the mind of Lemony Snicket minus the dark undertones. I enjoy stories presented in format that strays from the traditional chapter flow, and Moriarty does a good job of revealing the various characters' personalities through their letters and e-mails to one another. I know that a book has me under its spell when I am willing to sacrifice sleep on a school night to read "just a few more pages" (which inevitably will lead to reading much more than that), and thanks to Moriarty's original characters and compelling story, I did just that.