“Letter to a Stranger” Book Review

Have you ever met a stranger that somehow had an unexpected impact on your life? Even a momentary connection with a person can reveal parts of yourself that you were unaware of or that can help you appreciate aspects of your life you didn’t previously take note of. These unforeseen interactions can be meaningful, magical, or even mundane – but they can indeed leave an indelible mark.

Colleen Kinder decided to offer this assignment to her fellow writers: write a letter to a stranger who haunts you. What came back were 65 letters that run the gamut of emotions – from heartfelt and humorous to intriguing and mysterious. Every writer chose an interesting moment in their lives when they were touched by the actions of a stranger (most of whom were in and out of their lives after a short period of time). My favorite part is that these stories came from all over the world – ranging from small towns in the US to Costa Rica to Antarctica.

At the beginning of this collection, I was completely drawn into the stories and it got me thinking about my own experiences with strangers who have had an impact on me. Memories were evoked and I felt drawn in by the nature and wonder of human connection (something I don’t often spend a great deal of time thinking about). But something happened about halfway through the book for me – I began to feel bogged down by the stories and a tad bored (since some of them do bring up the same types of people/experiences). I think the only way to avoid this fatigue would have been to make the collection shorter. Although the book would have had fewer stories, I think a more curated selection of only the most powerful letters would have been more beneficial to the reader.

I would definitely read collections like this in the future because I think the idea for it was super original. But I might be more selective about which ones get my full attention.

3.5 stars

*Free ARC provided by Netgalley and Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review*

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