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Paperback Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow Book


ISBN13: 9780978843120

Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

"Reading Dedra Johnson's Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow, I was fully in the presence of the mind, heart and soul of a richly rendered, fascinating fictional character. I knew I was also in the presence of the brillian voice and sensibility of a major new American writer. This is an important novel by a true artist."-- Robert Olen Butler "Dedra Johnson has caught something wonderful in Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow. She writes brilliantly about childhood,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Tears for a little girl--Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow

I picked up Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow in order to rejuvenate my writer's mind a bit before tackling a corporate assignment (read: procrastinate). What started out as a nooner ended up as an all nighter. I read it straight through, in one sitting (not counting bathroom, laptop shutdown and wineglass refill breaks). It made me cry. While few of we who are Black women can claim everything Sandrine endured, I imagine most of us have lived at least some piece of it--colorstruck self-hatred, sexual molestation, discrimination-wrought poverty, the liberation of education. I know I have. Reading this book opened emotional doors that I had locked and lost the keys to. Catharsis. It was a wonderful read, a moving story, a tale of hope. Read it.

Written from the heart -

This is one of the best contemporary novels I've read in a very long time. I agree with the other reviews, reading Sandrine's Letter is a very intense, emotional, and beautiful experience. I couldn't put it down until the end. I want to thank the author for writing such a wonderful book!

What a wonderful book!

This brave, tart and wrenching novel is equally funny and harrowing, frequently at the same time, and moves with smooth fluidity from scenes of brutal suffering to moments of heart-catching beauty. A lovely debut, it tells the story of a young girl, Sandrine Miller, whose sharp intelligence and reluctant compassion are tried and tested by the adults around her, who range from her preoccupied and largely absent father to her grotesque stepmother, her sadistic grandmother, her teachers (who are alternately cruel, clueless, and kind) and above all her warped, stunted mother. Indeed, aside from the author's remarkable creation of Sandrine herself, the portrait of her mother Shirleen is one of the book's greatest achievements. The character is amazingly nuanced, losing nothing of her hatefulness even while we see her as a near-tragic victim herself. This is territory that's clearly been mined before, as others have noted ("I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" and "The Bluest Eye" come immediately to mind) but Ms. Johnson's work stands up beautifully even by comparison to those classics. It's simply wonderful. Make every effort to track down this remarkable book and read it!


This novel is quite compelling on all levels, story, plot, character, imagery, with writing that is beautiful and yet painfully frank at times. One of this author's many wonderful gifts is that she always includes the telling detail, even in scenes wherein unspeakable things happen. Many such scenes come to mind: the episode in which Sandrine awakens to discover that a friendly neighbor may have abused her sexually (sadly, he did)--the sad/comic episode wherein she observes her mother showing preferential treatment to her bratty, hoochie, little step-sister, of all people--the encounters with her mothers (plural) in general (her mother, her step-mother, her grandmother Dear)--the frightening scene in the alley as she loses her precious rosary, fending off an attacker--the touching scenes near the end that take place at her father's clinic. But this is no typical book about a miserable childhood, for Sandrine remains, for the most part, happy, hopeful, and extremely courageous. Furthermore, the surprising manner in which she ultimately finds her salvation, if you will, sets her story apart from the myriad titles whose protagonists also recount tales of repeated predatory abuse in childhood. So as not to risk giving away too much about a book that you must do yourself a big favor and read, let me just say that Sandrine, surprisingly, puts the blame where it belongs in that letter she writes at the end.


I've been having trouble with William Gibson's latest one for weeks, only managing a couple of pages a night before falling asleep and not being able to keep track of all the intertwined plots and the dozen or so key characters. I finally gave up and grabbed the next thing on my pile, one I'd been looking forward to: Dedra Johnson's Sandrine's Letter To Tomorrow. I could have read this in one sitting. I had to force myself to put it down at 2am the first night because I had work the next morning, but I read it some more at lunch and finished it the next night. It was like a punch in the stomach to me, the first night my heart was racing, and I'm still not completely over it days later. Others might react differently but if you or a loved one have lived through similar circumstances as Sandrine, reading this will be an emotional experience that you won't soon forget. I know for me it picked at some scabs that should have healed long ago. Sandrine is a bookish light-skinned black girl growing up in New Orleans in the 1970's, being handed off between parents and stepparents with varying degrees of parental involvement. It's moving and it's shocking and it's sweet and it's brave, sometimes all at the same time. This is brilliant and I want more like it.
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