Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Beachmont Letters

Beachmont Letters

Cathleen Twomey
For ages 12 and up
Boyds Mills Press, 2003   ISBN: 1590780507

Eleanor Driscoll’s once happy life is totally changed. In a terrible fire Eleanor lost both her father and her pretty face. She is now scarred in body and heart, missing her father and their old life. Mrs. Driscoll, a widow with two children to support, struggles to make ends meet. Eleanor then starts to take small and sometimes stumbling steps to regain her life. Overcoming her fear of being stared and talked about, Eleanor gets a job, determined to help her mother out by bringing in some much needed money. Bit by bit she comes of out her shell, making a few friends, gaining confidence.

One of Eleanor’s biggest joys is to read letters from and write letters to a soldier about to go to war. Robert becomes more and more important to her, and it isn’t long before Eleanor has fallen a little in love with the stranger. Eleanor tells Robert everything about her life. She tells him about the people she meets, about her family and eventually she tells him about what happened to her beloved father. Robert becomes Eleanor’s confidant and friend, the one person she can ‘talk’ to about everything. Everything except her poor ‘melted’ face. It is only when it is too late that she has the courage to tell Robert about her scarred face.

The author has created a beautifully written, moving and heart wrenching tale about a young woman trying to reconcile herself with loss and grief. Eleanor has to learn to live with her disfigurement and accept that people will always stare and make comments. She also has to learn how to trust, how to open up to the kind and loving people who see past the scars and who love the Eleanor underneath. ‘Watching’ this brave and loveable girl struggle with life is enriching, and we celebrate with her when she takes the small steps towards recovery and hopefully, happiness. A highly recommended book.