Selected and annotated by Michelle Biwer
Epistolary works weave various types of documents together into a unique form of narrative. The following list includes books written as a series of letters, diary entries, blogs, emails, and even a play. Young adult novels are prominently featured in this bibliography but middle grade and picture books are also included.
Anonymous. Letting Ana Go. Simon Pulse, 2013. 279p. Gr. 7-10.
She was a normal girl, but when her coach assigned her cross country team to keep track of their food intake, she started thinking that her weight was something within her control, if only she ate as little as possible. The anonymous narrator of this diary chronicles her slow descent into anorexia.
Buzo, Laura. Love and Other Perishable Items. Knopf, 2012. 243p. Gr. 7-10.
After fifteen year-old Amelia starts working at the local supermarket, she develops a crush on her coworker Chris, a college student. As the pair begin to talk more, they realize how much they like each other while also recognizing that they are both in very different stages of their lives.
Cooper, Michelle. A Brief History of Montmaray. Knopf, 2009. 296p. Gr. 7-10.
On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Sophie FitzOsborne of Montmaray begins keeping a diary of the happenings of the small island country over which family reigns in 1936. As the FitzOsborne family fortune continues to dwindle and German soldiers begin to occupy the island, Sophie must act protect her beloved home.
Cooper, Rose. Gossip From the Girls Room. Knopf, 2010. 198p. Gr. 5-8.
Determined to finally attain popularity at Middlebrooke Middle School, sixth-grader Sophia creates a gossip blog. Sophia hopes that by sharing gossip about the school’s “popular” kids, she will replace them as rulers of the school.
Dellaira, Ava. Love Letters to the Dead. Farrar, 2014. 327p. Gr. 7-10.
Laurel’s first English assignment of the year is to write a letter to a dead person. After writing her first letter to Kurt Cobain, Laurel continues to write letters to dead icons who shaped her childhood and in the process tries to come to peace with her late sister’s death.
Dogar, Sharon. Annexed. Houghton, 2010. 332p. Gr. 7-10.
From his deathbed in the Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen, a fictionalized Peter van Pels recounts his time hiding in the secret annex with Anne Frank and her family from 1942-1944.
Handler, Daniel. Why We Broke Up; illus. by Maira Kalman. Little, 2011. 345p. Gr. 9-12.
Min and Ed broke up, and Min wants to get rid of all of the mementos from their relationship by sending them to Ed in a box. Min goes through each item one by one in a letter to Ed, documenting the item’s importance to their relationship and ultimately sharing the reasons why they broke up.
Hyde, Catherine Ryan. Diary of a Witness. Knopf, 2009. 201p. Gr. 7-10.
Will and Ernie are each other’s best and only friends, and both are frequent targets for bullies. When Will’s brother drowns, Ernie is the only one who can help Will cope with the trauma.
Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Wisdom’s Kiss: A Thrilling and Romantic Adventure Incorporating Magic, Villainy, and a Cat. Houghton, 2011. 284p. Gr. 6-9.
Princess Wisdom of the fantasy kingdom Montagne is traveling to meet her future husband when she acquires a new servant named Trudy and meets Trudy’s childhood best friend, Tips. Together, they must protect the kingdom from the wicked Duchess Wilhelmina and other dastardly forces that come their way.
Nolen, Jerdine. Eliza’s Freedom Road: An Underground Railroad Diary. Wiseman/Simon, 2011. 150p. Gr. 4-7.
Born a slave, Eliza is separated from her mother and taken from the Virginian tobacco farm on which she was raised. She is brought to Maryland by her mistress, whose health begins to deteriorate, prompting Eliza to contemplate escape with the help of Harriet Tubman.
Portis, Antoinette, Kindergarten Diary. Harper/HarperCollins, 2010. 32p. 4-7 yrs.
Annalina is nervous about her first day of kindergarten but her mom forces her to go to “the big school.” Every day she writes about her experiences in kindergarten as she grows more confident.
Powell, William Campbell. Expiration Day. Tor, 2014. 330p. Gr. 8-10.
Tania believes herself to be an actual human being in a world where most children are teknoids built by a corporation due to a global infertility crisis. When Tania finds out she is a teknoid, she begins to question the rule that would require her and all other teknoids to be returned to the company that created them, and in the process discovers what it means to be truly human.
Solheim, James. Born Yesterday: The Diary of a Young Journalist; illus. by Simon James. Philomel, 2010. 28p. 6-9 yrs.
A baby is born and…it keeps a diary. The baby narrates its first few days on earth as it meets its older sister for the first time, observes a kindergarten class, and complains about the nature of pacifiers.
Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity. Hyperion, 2012. 343p. Gr. 9-12.
Verity is a Scottish spy captured by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Under duress, Verity is ordered to recount her role in the war effort through a series of letters that are consequently read by the Gestapo.
Wein, Elizabeth. Rose Under Fire. Hyperion, 2013. 360p. Gr. 9-12.
Rose Justice is an eighteen-year-old American pilot who ferries planes for the British Air Transport Auxiliary during World War II. After she volunteers for a solo flight to France, her plane is intercepted by the Nazis.
Williams, Marcia, ad. Lizzy Bennet’s Diary: 1811-1812 Discovered by Marcia Williams. Candlwick, 2014. 112p. Gr.4-6.
The tale of Jane Austen’s beloved Lizzy Bennet of is told again, this time in Lizzy’s own words. Lizzy writes the story of Pride and Prejudice in her diary, complete with illustrations and suitable for younger readers who may still find the original tome inaccessible.
Zarr, Sara and Tara Altebrando. Roomies. Little, 2013. 279p. Gr. 9-12.
Upon receiving her freshman year roommate assignment from UC Berkeley, Elizabeth emails her future roomie, Lauren. The two continue to correspond via email over the summer about college, and eventually about their drastically different families and personal lives.