Book Review: Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

dirty letters review

The day I finished reading/listening to “Dirty Letters” was also the day I read that Gen Z’s battle cry “OK Boomer” has gone viral. The first thought that came to mind was if a Gen Z or a Millennial read this book, will they be able to relate?

Because, if they can’t, it will be a shame because “Dirty Letters” is one of the most beautiful and heartwarming books I have read and listened to. And it all started when two grade schoolers became pen pals.

Yes, pen pals – as in writing down your thoughts on paper, putting it on an envelope and putting a stamp on it. And to me, this is the true genius in the premise of this novel. The hero and heroine – Griffin Quinn and Luca Ryan are both in their mid-twenties which by the way make them Gen Z.

It started as a school project. Because the participants are minors, their identities were hidden. They gave their real first name, but their last name was the last name of their teacher.

Maybe it was the anonymity or maybe it was because Luca and Griffin truly made a connection; they became best friends though Luca was a New Yorker and Griffin lived in London. They shared their deepest darkest secrets and as they passed tweenhood to become teens, their letters became the highlight of their week. That is, until Luca stopped writing.

Fast-forward 8 years and Luca was back in Manhattan for a day, just to clean out their old apartment. When she checked the mail, she found a letter from Griffin. Needing to reconnect, she wrote back. And though both owned the latest smart phones and perhaps the top of the line laptops and computers, they chose to write letters to each other.

Did I say that it is the letter writing that drew me to this story? Still, it is just one part, though a big part, nonetheless. Griffin and Luca, together with the supporting characters are all well developed. Luca’s agoraphobia is a big part of the story the same way that Griffin hiding from Luca who he really was.

And as they try to find a happy medium for their issues, the real world creeps in; the life that they were trying to build can easily fall apart.

I actually received an ARC of this book, which I read but decided to wait until I have listened to the audio book. Having Andi Arndt as the female narrator has always been a draw for me. And as always, her portrayal of Luca is just perfect, the same way she always does in any book she narrates.

For Jacob Morgan, “Dirty Letters” is only the second book I have listened to. His English accent was right on target. Still, it felt that I have listened to him more than once. Then, I find out that Jacob Morgan is the nom de guerre of Zachary Webber. After that, it all made sense to me because I have listened to him a lot of times.

I guess you have already deduced that I’m giving 5 stars to both the story and the performance. So, the only thread left that I need to close is my comment about Gen Z and their battle cry, “OK Boomer!”

My take on that – the more things changes, the more it stays the same. Gen Z is not the only generation who rebelled against their elders. Every generation does. In fact, the Baby Boomers did the exact same thing to their parents – rebel.

Case in point, another Gen Z’ battle cry – “Don’t trust anyone over 30” was actually a Boomer battle cry during the 1960s and 1970s. So, yes, there is distrust and rebellion.

With that in mind, “Dirty Letters” became poignant and nostalgic the moment I finished it and saw the “OK Boomer” op-ed. At that point time, I saw that no matter how wide the generation gap is, it can be bridged.

The way Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward used old fashioned letter writing for two tweens to connect in a digital world, then made them reconnect when they were older using a combination of pen and paper, texting and FaceTime or Skype as their means of communication when they cannot be physically together just goes to show that it does not matter how we communicate as long as we do.

Dirty Letters” is Rated T for Teens. Parental guidance is strongly advised due to some sex scenes and agoraphobia.

  • Story
  • Performance

Dirty Letters

Poignant, sweet and nostalgic, “Dirty Letters” is one of the most beautiful and heartwarming books I have read and listened to. And it all started when two grade schoolers became pen pals.

Book Title: Dirty Letters

Authors: Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Romance
Pub Date 05 Nov 2019

Narrated by: Andi Arndt, Jacob Morgan
Length: 7 hrs and 59 mins
Release date: 11-05-19
Language: English

From New York Times bestselling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward comes an unexpected love story that starts long before the lovers meet.

I’d never forgotten him—a man I’d yet to meet.

Griffin Quinn was my childhood pen pal, the British boy who couldn’t have been more different from me. Over the years, through hundreds of letters, we became best friends, sharing our deepest, darkest secrets and forming a connection I never thought could break.

Until one day it did.

Then, out of the blue, a new letter arrived. A scathing one—one with eight years of pent-up anger. I had no choice but to finally come clean as to why I stopped writing.

Griffin forgave me, and somehow we were able to rekindle our childhood connection. Only now we were adults, and that connection had grown to a spark. Our letters quickly went from fun to flirty to downright dirty, revealing our wildest fantasies. So it only made sense that we would take our relationship to the next level and see each other in person.

Only Griff didn’t want to meet. He asked that I trust him and said it was for the best. But I wanted more—more Griff, in the flesh—so I took a big chance and went looking for him. People have done crazier things for love.

But what I found could change everything.