Letters from My Sister

Written by Valerie Fraser Luesse
Review by Kate Braithwaite

With appealing characters and lush period description, this is an enjoyable story of family and a convincing portrait of early 20th-century Alabama. Callie Bullock is the somewhat unconventional daughter of a prominent farming family. Callie’s more at home up a tree or out in the fields with her father than drinking tea with other young ladies. She’s close to her sister Emmy who is engaged to marry Knox Montgomery, an idealistic lawyer. But Knox’s twin brother Ryder is a very different man. A known predator, when he targets Lily, the beautiful granddaughter of the Bullock’s Black housekeeper, Callie, Emmy, and their mother are determined to keep the girl safe.

The story that unfolds is at times tragic and moving. An accident causes Callie to experience memory loss, and other hardships and losses trouble the family. Faith is an important part of life for the white characters, but Callie’s mother, particularly, is also open to the spiritualism of Lily’s great-grandmother, and the connection between the two families—Black and white—in a time of segregation and racial tension makes for interesting reading. Letters from My Sister covers some hard ground: grief, sexual assault, racism and murder, but with sensitivity. Well-developed primary and secondary characters, a dash of humor, and a gentle romance for Callie, round out this engaging tale.