Isabelle, from Portugal, was assigned a boy named Elliot from England. Isabelle's teacher had a friend there so their teachers decided their classes swap letters. They started writing when they were in ninth grade. They have kept in touch until they were older and now working on their careers. By some work of fate, these two would meet in Lisbon through an accident. And from there, that's where the story gets interesting.
I can totally relate to the pen pal writing days. Back in Grade 6, it was our class Christmas party, the whole class was asked to huddle together for a picture. Our picture will be sent out to Netherlands. A class there wanted to exchange letters with pupils from the Philippines and we were the chosen ones. A few months after, some kids got their letters. Unfortunately, not all of us got an envelope. I, for one didn't. The Dutch kids were asked to choose who they want to correspond with based on our class picture that was sent over to them. Later, in High School, as part of our Girl Scouts requirement, I asked a classmate of mine, who got a letter from one of the Dutch students, if I could send a letter to her friend. She agreed and I sent out my letter. I got a postcard in return with a monkey on it saying "Wish you were here". I don't know what to make of it. I appreciated that she took the time to send me a postcard but I don't know if I should be offended with the monkey. Of all the postcards she could send, it would be a picture of a monkey she chose. The caption was at least nice enough to not make me think about the monkey too much. And I guess, I took it as not to bother her again. I did thank her for responding to my first letter.
I think the story is cute. One where in two individuals started at first to not agree with each other and then later become really close. The story has its unique qualities. For one, it was set in Portugal. I don't think I've read a lot of stories where the backdrop is Portugal. I get to at least imagine myself in Lisbon while Isabelle described her favorite places. Then, you have the old school letter-writing factor which in this modern day and age seems so ancient. I liked it. I can't exactly remember the last time I wrote and mailed a hand-written letter. I used to send birthday cards and letters to my best friend in Grade School after we went to different high schools. She was so touched and it so happened that she was having a time. Her parents' marriage were rocky and my letters at least comforted her in a way. When I saw her again in College, she profoundly thank me and apologized for not having been the best friend that she could be. That's the greatest thing about manually writing letters. You can feel the sincerity, the concern and the love of the person writing it. You at least feel that a part of that person is sealed in that letter. Not to mention the effort put to writing the letter. It just means that that person cares about you more than you ever know. It's so personal which makes email and messaging a totally different story. Sometimes you can never tell if the person is being truthful or not.
The best thing about the story is they used pen names. They do not know what's the real identity of the person they are writing to which adds to the thrill and suspense. One other thing I adore about the story is Isabelle's shirt collection. I would love to have her shirts with their cute and unique descriptions on them like I cook: what's your super power? I was thinking, one day, I'd probably have shirts printed with my favorite quotes from books I read or just anything as long as it was taken from the books.
I would like to say, the story is straight forward. Not a lot of twists and turns but it gets you curious enough to go on. Not a lot of fuss but it makes you want to find out what happens next. It is not the usual mushy love story you encounter but it's one where you wished that you could also have someone like Simon in your life. Someone who's going to make a way to be just closer to you.
I defintely agree with how it ends. Just fitting. It's always good to be rewarded for trying so hard to do what your hearts wants to accomplish. I also admire that Isabelle gets to do the one other thing she loves most. It's a good life lesson. Just because you are doing good in your current career, doesn't mean you should stop pursuing your other passion. This makes me contemplate about my own life too. And I think this is what most authors would like to let all their readers know - that in one way they would be able to impart to their readers a lesson that could be used in real life. Thumbs up for Whitney for this one.
I give the book three stars. I enjoyed the story but it just that it's not so memorable. Reading the title, I would have to try hard and recall what the story was. It's probably because, I quite read a few books the last few days and I was trying to remember from the top of my head what the story was. I wished the title was a little more obvious so I can easily recall the story. Other than that, I had a good experience with Isabelle and Simon. I would like to read more of Lucinda Whitney and find out where would she take me next. Where in Europe or some other destination that is not usually talked about.
Have you noticed how memories are a two-edged sword? On one side, you're comforted by the happier times, and on the other side, it grieves your heart when you can no longer live those times again.
- Lucinda Whitney, One Small Chance -