Dear Papa by Anne Ylvisaker is about a family who live during the Second World War. Isabelle Anderson is nine years old when she begins writing to her father, who died a year ago.
The Anderson family has changed since her father’s death; Isabelle’s two older sisters have got boyfriends, her little sister Ida doesn’t seem to remember their Papa, and her Mama has sold Papa’s gas station to the next-door-neighbours. Everyone is beginning to move on after the tragedy, but Isabelle is confused. Why are her family trying to forget Papa? She writes to her father constantly, keeping him up to date with the changes that are occurring.
As the months go by, the family starts to be dragged apart even more. Mama insists on sending Isabelle to her religious aunt and uncle in the country. Isabelle yearns for her family, and writes to Papa for comfort, plotting to escape from her prison and find her way home.
The war has altered Mama to the point that she is unrecognisable. She has got a job, has moved into the home of a man called Frank, and gets cross with Isabelle if she mentions Papa. Will Isabelle ever be able to say goodbye to Papa and accept her new life?
Dear Papa is a wonderful book. Something that I found interesting was how it was written in the form of a collection of letters from Isabelle to her mother, siblings, aunt, and of course Papa. I think this was a fantastic way to write the book, because by reading the letters you learn about various characters from Isabelle’s point of view.
When Isabelle moves to live with her aunt and uncle, I almost feel sorry for Aunt Jaye and Uncle Bernard when Isabelle decides that if she misbehaves, she will be sent back home. She then misbehaves as much as she can, while her aunt and uncle despair. It’s interesting reading a story from a nine-year-old’s point of view; everything seems so bizarre to her.
This book is an awesome historical fiction novel. I give it a 9 out of 10. It’s funny, fascinating, happy and sad at the same time; a curious mix that means you have no idea what will happen next. I loved Dear Papa, I know that you will too!
Reviewed by Tierney Reardon.