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  • Letters from the Inside
  • Written by John Marsden
  • Format: Paperback | ISBN: 9780440219514
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Letters from the Inside

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Mandy and Tracey have never met, but they know everything about each other. Connected through a pen-pal ad, they exchange frequent letters, writing about boyfriends and siblings, music and friends. They trade stories about school and home. They confide their worries and hopes. It almost makes it easier, and more special, that they’ve never met—they can say whatever they want in the safety of their private world of letters.
But that private world may not be as safe as it seems. Can Mandy trust Tracey to be who she says she is? What secrets hide between the lines of their letters?


August 1

OK wise guy, you asked for it, you want to keep snooping around my life I'll tell you the truth but you're not going to like it.  You heard of Garrett? Well if you haven't I'll tell you.  It's a maximum security place, where they put you if you're bad, and if you're worse than bad they put you in A Block, and that's where I am and that's where I've been for eleven months and that's where they're going to try to keep me for a long time yet, but not if I have any say they won't.  So now fuck off and get out of my life.


Aug 10

Well, that sure worked didn't it? Thought it would.  Now you know why I never told you in the first place.  So thanks for proving me right.


August 15

Tracey, that's not fair.  I've started about ten letters since you finally wrote, but I couldn't finish any.  None of them seemed right.  I don't know if this'll finish in the rubbish tin like the others.  I don't have a clue what to say.  Your letter blew me away.  I admit that.  But at least now I can guess why you put the ad in, and I can see why you didn't tell the truth about where you were.

I looked up Garrett in a telephone directory and a street directory and I've been trying to find out a bit about it.  But it's not easy.

I honestly don't know what to write.  I think all I can do is send this off and hope you'll answer.  And I really hope you do.

See you,


Aug 19

I don't know what to write either.  I only put the ad in as a joke, one day when I was sitting round with nothing to do (like every day).  I never meant it to end up like this.

Keep writing if you want.  But don't expect much back.  I wouldn't know what to say.


August 24

Dear Tracey,

Thanks for writing back.  I'm still in a state of shock, I admit, but something makes me keep writing.  I'm curious about you of course--don't be offended--it's just that I thought I was getting to know you and now I find I don't know you at all.  And I do feel ripped-off, because there I was pouring my heart out to you, and now I wonder if you've been laughing at me and showing my letters to your mates so they could all share the joke.

I don't think you would, mind you, because I still think I know you a bit, but it's a matter of trust I guess.

So what's the true story?

I thought I'd bring you up to date with what's happening in my life, but it's harder now.  It seems so insignificant compared to the kind of life you must have.  And it's so long since I wrote you a 'proper' letter, I can't remember what I told you.  I think I was still with George then.  That does seem a long time ago.  Anyway, he dropped me a while back, no special reason, we're still good mates, blah blah blah.

So, what can I write that's going to interest you? I don't know any more.  I've got the same problem as you--I don't know what to say either.

I hope you write again but.



Dear Mandy,

Don't you understand? The reason I put the ad in? I wanted to know what a real life was like.  I wanted to know what normal people do.  That's why I liked your letters.  That's what I want you to write about.  I wanted you to write about your family and school and all that shit.  I wanted you to be normal, the world's most normal person.  That's why I hated hearing about your brother, because when you started talking about him, and the fights and everything, you were sounding like me or anyone else here.  And I didn't want that. Twenty-four hours a day is enough.

So that's all you have to write about.  It's easy for you.

And I don't show your letters to anyone, although I don't blame you for wondering.  And I don't laugh at them.  In my twelve months (nearly) yours (and the other ones from the ad) are the only letters I've had.

You asked a while back about my Nanna essay.  Well, seeing you asked, I'll tell you: it got an A+ and the teacher said she was going to enter it in a competition.  See, I can do some things.  And not everything I told you was bullshit.

Have you told Cheryl and them about me? About being in Garrett I mean?

John Marsden

About John Marsden

John Marsden - Letters from the Inside
John Marsden is one of Australia's most critically acclaimed and bestselling authors.


WINNER 1995 ALA Best Books for Young Adults

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