Letters for Scarlet

Julie C.

WOMEN'S FICTION:  Corie, Scarlet, and Tuck once had a close bond. Ten years after graduation, letters the girls wrote to their future selves resurrect a chance for redemption, but some people refuse to heal from past scars.


Ms. Gardner is gifted with weaving setting and dialogue with emotion. The story switches between first and third person seamlessly and has memorable impact. Yet, “Letters for Scarlet” hangs a maudlin cloud over the characters. Inconsistencies in character traits and a plot with a pallbearer’s expression make it an arduous journey. At twenty-eight, Scarlet is a successful attorney, but nothing demonstrates this. Instead, she’s seeing a psychologist, anti-social, and unsure of herself. Scarlet dotes on sorrow from losing Tuck as a teen-ager. 

Corie marries Tuck, and yearns for a family, but readers are lead to believe Corie’s marriage is doomed, hinting Tuck may be having an affair with Scarlet. Tension is attempted with a literary carrot. Something horrific occurred when Corie and Tuck revealed their sprouting love to Scarlet on graduation night. An overwhelming thread of “poor me” wraps both girls like Saran Wrap. In creating a world for readers, some author's teach, some entertain. In this case, overcoming adversity would have shown, especially for younger readers, that maturity means growth. Hanging onto a teenage breakup is indeed heartbreaking but blaming oneself for an accident is something that can be overcome.

If she chooses, Ms. Gardner’s writing potential as a new voice in women’s fiction could lead readers on an epic optimistic journey, whether it is adventure or overcoming life’s hurdles.

Sloane Austen