Thank you to Abby for sending me a copy of her novel, Letters in Cardboard Boxes.
I’m not a lawyer. And it wasn’t really my fault – I never told her that I was a lawyer. But she died after a long battle with a brain tumour, depression and dementia. And in her last few years, we let her believe whatever made her happy. And I was happy she thought I was a lawyer because at least that meant that she remembered who I was.
Abby Slovin’s Letters in Cardboard Boxes was difficult for me to really get into. The story centres around Parker, a middle-aged woman and her grandmother, Dotty. Parker and Dotty have a ritual of writing each other letters pretending to be on holidays in exotic places. But they’d always meet up at Dotty’s apartment in Brooklyn. Everything changes when Parker discovers that Dotty has dementia.
The story started way too slowly for me. I wished that Slovin had introduced Dotty earlier in the story because she was the strongest character. Parker on the other hand is such a sad character that seems incapable of running her own life. I hoped that her character would offer a glimpse of hope and I’m not sure I saw it even at the end of the book.
There were also a lot of descriptive sentences that didn’t necessarily add anything to the story. Slovin later told me that she was emulating the constant hum of activity on New York streets with her tone.
Criticism aside, I applaud Slovin for tackling the tough subject of dementia. Parker and Dotty’s relationship will make you wish that you had a similar bond to your grandparents. And while this story wasn’t for me, I think it would appeal to those who find themselves looking after their aging parents and grandparents.