Dear Fang, With Love is Rufi Thorpe’s latest novel. I’ve read her first book, The Girls from Corona Del Mar, and she was one of the most influential writers who responded to Nathan’s anniversary gift two years ago. When I heard she had a new book out, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!
Dear Fang, With Love tells the story of Vera, a 17-year-old on a European trip with her dad, Lucas. Lucas and Vera’s mother, Katya, were high school sweethearts who split up before Vera was born. Lucas becomes part of Vera’s life later on, and after an incident at school leaves her hospitalized, he decides to take her to their family’s homeland: Vilnius.
Some of the most important characters in the book are dead. The story of long-gone Grandma Sylvia is woven throughout the novel and largely shapes Lucas’s perspective and interpretation of things, especially as they travel around the city she called home. Readers are given front row seats to Lucas’s thoughts while also being privy to the correspondence between Vera and her boyfriend Fang. Structuring the novel this way gives readers a captivating view of characters’ motivations, fears, histories, and more as the story unfolds.
Mental illness and the question of sanity (and who gets to define sanity) are major topics in the book. Being in a foreign country with familial significance forces Lucas and Vera to reflect on their pasts and relationships. WW2 history also comes into play, and while the book is fiction, the horrific acts from that time period are based on fact. The content may be difficult for some though, so – fair warning – don’t read it if you aren’t up for some harrowing details.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Thorpe is second to none when it comes to character development, and the way she wove the story together is masterful. If you’re a fan of her previous work, you’ll definitely be a fan of this one.
Stats: 320 pages
Recommended for: Mature audiences…I’d rate this PG-13 if it were a movie 🙂 Anyone interested in Vilnius, WW2, mental illness, or family dramas would enjoy this book.
Up Next: The Two-Family House by Linda Cohen Loigman