I Will Always Write Back (Ganda)

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives 
Caitlin Alifirenka, Martin Ganda, 2015
Little, Brown for Young Readers
416 pp.

The bestselling true story of an all-American girl and a boy from Zimbabwe and the letter that changed both of their lives forever.

It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin's class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place.

Martin was lucky to even receive a pen-pal letter. There were only ten letters, and fifty kids in his class. But he was the top student, so he got the first one.

That letter was the beginning of a correspondence that spanned six years and changed two lives.

In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends—and better people—through their long-distance exchange. Their story will inspire you to look beyond your own life and wonder about the world at large and your place in it. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda met as pen pals in 1997 and are still best friends today. Caitlin, an ER nurse, lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and young daughters. Martin currently lives in New York. He has dual degrees in mathematics and economics from Villanova University and an MBA in finance from Duke University. (From the publisher.)

Book Reviews
The remarkable tenacity of these two souls pulled like magnets across the world by their opposite polarities—one committed to helping, the other to surviving—is deeply affecting.… It's quite a little miracle of unexpected genuineness.
New York Times Book Review

(Starred review.) Sensitively and candidly demonstrating how small actions can result in enormous change, this memoir of two families' transformation through the commitment and affection of long-distance friends will humble and inspire.
Publishers Weekly

A well-written, accessible story that will open Western adolescents' eyes to life in developing countries.… [A] strong and inspiring story...and an eye-opening look at life in another culture (Gr 6 & up). —Michelle Anderson, Tauranga City Libraries, New Zealand
School Library Journal

A pen-pal correspondence between an American girl and a Zimbabwean boy blossoms into a lifelong friendship.…. A feel-good, message-driven book that may appeal to adults more than teens (with photographs–Age 12 & up).
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for I'LL ALWAYS WRITE BACK … then take off on your own:

1. Talk about the wide gap between Martin's hardscrabble life in Zimbabwe and Caitlin's privileged one in the U.S.  How did two 12-year-olds from such vastly different backgrounds and expriences bridge the gap between them?

2. What do each of the two pen pals reveal about themselves as they write to one another? What dreams do each have, especially Martin?

3. How does her growing awareness of Martin's poverty affect her? In what way does the correspondence change Caitlin with regard to her American classmates?

4. What do you make of Caitlin sending a portion of her babysitting money to Martin? Was her act naive, condescending, or a genuinely inspired act of kindness?

5. What moved you most about his book?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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