Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sincerely by Courtney Sheinmel

Sincerely by Courtney Sheinmel
"Sincerely, Sophie
Eleven year old Sophie Turner lives in Manhattan and attends an all-girls private school, but some difficult changes have left her feeling very lonely. When Sophie's best friend, Jessie, suddenly rejects her for a faster crowd and the Turner family begins to break down, Sophie's only source of comfort is the distant voice of her school-assigned pen pal, Katie.

Sincerely, Katie
Eleven year old Katie Franklin lives in California, and she thinks life is perfect. When she and her best friend, Jake, spearhead a charity project for earthquake victims in Mexico, Katie couldn't be happier. But when Jake starts paying attention to another girl, Katie get jealous, and does some things she isn't proud of at all. No one at home understands her, but she does have one friend she can open up to--her pen pal, Sophie."- summary from publisher

I think the best way to review this book is to talk about each book separately, but first, my thoughts on how the story was told. Originally, I thought the book would have more back and forth between Sophie and Katie, and I also kinda expected it to be the same story just told from different perspectives. While the letter writing is a big part of the novel, it is really focused on other aspects of Sophie's and Katie's lives and the letters only seem to happen occasionally. And the stories are more linear than retellings. Between Sophie and Katie, there's a tiny bit of overlap, but Katie essentially seems to pick up when Sophie ends. Now that that's out of the way, let's take a look at each story.

I loved both stories but Sophie's was better for my well-being, as Katie's made me angry (you'll see why later- rant coming!). Both stories had a plot line of growing apart from various people in your life, but especially Sophie's. Things just aren't working out for her- her friend is starting to develop different interests from Sophie and is pushing her away, and her parents are getting divorced which causes a rift between Sophie and her dad. It's just a really bad time and, for me at least, it could be hard to continue reading at times because no one, but especially someone that young, should have to go through that much. But it isn't all melancholy, as Sheinmel sprinkles some humor and goodness throughout.

Katie's story made me angry, not because of anything Katie did, but rather her mom. Every so often, I come across a character that just makes me want to punch them in the face. Katie's mom, for most of the novel, has really no right to be a parent and should have had her parenting license revoked. Seriously. I hate it when people essentially bully you into doing what they want you to do rather than what you actually want to do. The key to parenting is LISTENING to your children and being able to change your mind instead of continuing on whatever path you want them to take. They are their own person, no matter how young or old, and the only person who can tell you what to do is yourself, not your parents or anyone else. It pissed me off to see Katie's mom just brushing off her childrens' hopes and dreams for their own future in favor of her own wishes for them. And ok, she redeemed herself at the end, but I still wanted to punch her.

Anyway, aside from that huge problem there, I enjoyed the rest of the story. I loved what Katie was doing and it was so heartwarming to see her working so hard to put this whole fundraiser together. In terms of the growing apart, Katie feels like her best friend Jake is growing apart from her when he wants to start hanging out with and including this other girl in their activities. Sheinmel really did a wonderful job handling Katie's feelings with that whole situation and it felt so true to the age.

Overall, this is yet another fantastic offering from Sheinmel. I loved the idea that weaves the two stories together (the letter writing) and it was cool to see both sides of a pen pal relationship. Definitely a book to pick up if you're looking for a great MG read.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.


  1. Great review - I may need to grab this one for my classroom library!

  2. the book is awesome.... i loved it . my favorite story is sincerely, katie i loved how she cared for everyone in mexico.thanks alot courteny sheinmel. ill keep on reading. you have inspired me.

  3. im almost finished with this book

  4. I honestly believe that Sophie book was better because it related more to me and its just way more interesting than Katie's side of the story.