Published: 22 May 2018
Publisher: Book Smugglers Publishing
Category: Fantasy/Short Story/Young Adult/LGBT+ (trans mc, nonbinary secondary)
Henry believes that someday, something awesome will happen–everything will turn out all right and all her problems will disappear once her letter arrives, welcoming her to magic school. So even though puberty is already here with changes (like her voice deepening and hair growing in places she does not want), she also knows it’s only a matter of time. After all, hundreds of books have said so.
But when the letter finally comes on Henry’s thirteenth birthday, it is not addressed to her, but to her sister.
When The Letter Comes is a short story with a YA trans protagonist that embraces the experience of those left behind, who must find their own way in the world–magic or not.
Rating: 5 Stars
What happens to the children left behind, the ones not chosen? In When the Letter Comes, we get the story of Henry, a transgender girl who is desperate to step through a wardrobe, get a letter delivered by owl, anything to prove that the magic she’s always believed in is real. When the letter does comes, though, it is addressed to her younger sister rather than her.
This story really spoke to me because I remember what it was like, growing up and wanting something like that to happen. In my case, it was pretending to fall into a rabbit hole, wishing that Wonderland would appear one of those times. What happens when it never does, though? In Henry’s case, after the letter for her sister arrives, she starts leaving magic behind; or, at least trying to convince herself that she is.
Besides the question, the somewhat heartbreaking sadness at realizing you won’t be chosen & that chance is going elsewhere, of what to do in the face of all that, there was Henry’s story about figuring out who she was (i.e. transgender) and living her life as truthfully as possible. There’s some discomfort, some growing pains, a bit of awkwardness, all of which felt so good to read because Henry’s personal story was strongly present alongside the things we read about happening to her sister in the magical world and how it becomes a part of Henry’s world on the outside.
I was hoping that it would turn into a longer book and while it doesn’t, When the Letter Comes is a tremendously great example of a short story that builds up a fully realized world and manages to tell a complete story within its limited word count. Sara Fox is a new favorite author and I hope to read more of their work soon.
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