Book Review: Dear Zoe by Phillip Beard
By Allison Latzko
Until I read Dear Zoe by Phillip Beard, the only people I knew who died on September 11 were those killed at the World Trade Center. I never thought about people like Zoe. Now I do.
This coming-of-age novel is brilliantly written in a letter format penned by fifteen year old Tess to her younger sister, Zoe. The voice of Tess for the most part is spot on but the author does slip up from time to time causing Tess to sound more like the an older, wiser person. This occasional glitch, although jarring, didn’t stop me from reading on.
The magic of Dear Zoe was the feeling that Tess was speaking directly to me. Amazing jewels of insight were sprinkled throughout the narrative but the one that strongly resonated with me was Tess’s lament: “You won’t be any part of what they’re thinking about. You’ll just be the silence itself.” Even out of context the meaning is clear and powerful.
The character of Zoe was richly developed and so strikingly honesty that Beard made me truly care deeply about her and those that loved her. Although Zoe died that day in September and was never present in the novel, her sister’s struggle to come to terms with the event of Zoe’s death was there on every page.
I too lost Zoe on September 11. I will mourn her death and celebrate her life.
Mr. Beard you brought fiction to life. Thank you.
Allison Latzko is an English Writing major at the University of Pittsburgh and a current member of the Writers News Weekly staff.