In an age dominated by fleeting digital messages and instantaneous communication, there remains a unique charm in the art of written correspondence. Epistolary novels, crafted through a series of letters, journal entries, or other forms of documentation, provide readers with an intimate glimpse into the hearts and minds of characters, bridging time, space, and emotions. These books possess an unparalleled ability to immerse readers, letting them sift through every raw emotion, every unspoken word, and every heartfelt confession, as if privy to a personal secret. Here are 5 Epistolary Books That Will Touch Your Heart, masterpieces that not only redefine the art of storytelling but also promise to tug at the very strings of your heart.
5 Epistolary Books That Will Touch Your Heart
Diary of Anne Frank: by Anne Frank
“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank is remarkable example of a book in epistolary format, consisting of diary entries, which indeed touches the hearts of millions around the world. Anne Frank’s diary chronicles her experiences while hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. The deeply moving and poignant reflections of Anne and her vivid descriptions of her experiences bring readers closer to the horror and inhumanity of war, while also displaying her hope, intelligence, and unwavering belief in humanity.
The Color Purple: by Alice Walker
First published in 1982, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker is a poignant addition to the canon of epistolary novels. This masterpiece of modern American literature is a riveting tapestry of thoughts, voices, and letters, chronicling the life and transformation of its protagonist, Celie, a young African American woman living in the southern United States during the early 20th century.
The novel unfolds through Celie’s letters, initially addressed to God and later to her sister, Nettie, which are heartfelt and raw, depicting her harrowing journey from abuse and oppression to self-discovery and empowerment. Through her writing, Walker traverses the manifold terrains of racial injustice, gender inequality, and the relentless quest for love and acceptance in a world overshadowed by hate and prejudice.
In “The Color Purple,” Walker doesn’t just tell a story; she invites readers to be silent witnesses to Celie’s innermost fears, hopes, and transformations. Each letter is a delicate thread weaving a rich, multifaceted narrative that opens a window to the resilience and strength of the human spirit even in the face of unimaginable adversity.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: by Stephen Chbosky
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a coming-of-age novel that resonates deeply with many readers due to its raw portrayal of the teenage experience. The story is set in the early 1990s and is presented as a series of letters from a teenage boy named Charlie to an anonymous recipient. Charlie is introverted and introspective, struggling with the death of his best friend and the complex memories of his Aunt Helen. As a freshman in high school, he tries to “participate” more in life, which leads him to form deep connections with a group of seniors.
In 2012, Chbosky adapted and directed a film version of the novel, featuring Logan Lerman as Charlie, Emma Watson as Sam, and Ezra Miller as Patrick. The film was also well-received and helped introduce the novel to a new generation of readers and viewers.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: by Jenny Han
Delightful and heartfelt young adult novel “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: by Jenny Han” revolves around the life of Lara Jean Song Covey. She is a high school junior who pens secret love letters to all of her past crushes. However, she never intends to send them. The letters are her way of moving on from the crushes and are meant for her eyes only. These letters are stored in a hatbox, hidden from the world. The story takes an unexpected turn when, mysteriously, the letters are sent out, and each boy confronts Lara Jean. This development catapults her life into a whirlwind of emotions and awkward, yet enchanting, situations.
The novel masterfully explores themes of love, identity, and family. Lara Jean’s journey navigates the complexities of adolescence, sibling dynamics, and the excitement and turmoil of young love. Lara Jean pretends to be in a relationship with one of the recipients, Peter, to save face and make his ex-girlfriend jealous. Meanwhile, she confronts her feelings for another letter recipient, Josh, her sister’s ex-boyfriend. Throughout this compelling narrative, Jenny Han combines humor and emotion to create a poignant and charming story that resonates with readers, making “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” a standout in young adult fiction.
Letters to Milena: by Franz Kafka
“Letters to Milena” by Franz Kafka is another book composed of heartfelt and profound letters, and it indeed offers a deeply touching insight into Kafka’s life and emotions. This collection includes letters that Kafka wrote to Milena Jesenská, a translator and journalist, between 1920 and 1923.
These letters reveal Kafka’s thoughts on life, his insecurities, his love, and his struggles. Milena became a close friend and confidante to Kafka, and their correspondence reveals a side of Kafka that is tender, thoughtful, and deeply human. This book provides an intimate glimpse into the mind of one of the most enigmatic and influential writers of the 20th century and is a valuable addition to the epistolary genre.