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Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow Paperback – November 1, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This aching debut explores a girl's coming-of-age in poverty-drenched mid-1970s New Orleans. Eight-year-old Sandrine Miller lives like a servant to her mother, Shirleen, a low-wage typist, and her mean-spirited grandmother, Mother Dear, both of whom keep Sandrine overloaded with chores despite her homework and eagerness to keep up good grades at school. Sandrine's main escape is visiting her father and his mother, Mamalita, in the country for the summer, but her dream of moving there is crushed when Mamalita dies, and her busy country doctor dad leaves Sandrine in the noncare of his girlfriend, Philipa, whose dotty daughter, Yolanda, is, to Sandrine's bookish disgust, more interested in boys than her education. Indeed, Sandrine feels wronged, especially by her mother, who holds Sandrine's light skin against her. As she grows, Sandrine finds empowerment in knowledge of her body (taught to her by an older classmate, Lydia, whose step-dad molests her) and the recognition that learning is her only escape from the defeating cycle of early pregnancy, poverty and general futility. There are echoes of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and Sandrine, with her fierce price, is an instantly likable underdog. (Nov.)
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About the Author

Dedra Johnson teaches English at Dillard College in New Orleans. Her short fiction has been published in Bridge Magazine and Product 9, and she is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Florida-Gainesville. Sandrine's Letters to Tomorrow, which is her first novel, was a finalist in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition 2006.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Ig Publishing (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0978843126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0978843120
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 5.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #528,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ray Shea on December 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
"Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow" is the story of a young girl who grew up raising herself in a dysfunctional household. The book provided a perspective look into the childhood of young, light-skinned, African American female dealing with issues such as how she was mistreated as young girl by both peers and family. "Sandrine's Letter to Tomorrow" was an overall good book. It is a story that is very plausible in the African American community. I believe a lot of people, especially older generations, could relate to the story.
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Ok...I chose this book for my independent creative writing study for my BA degree. I really was not wanting to read anything and was putting this off. As I began reading I was a bit bored at first. (I think I was just anxious to get the process over with.) I tried to skim through the book so that I could get the to the point and write my response...HOWEVER, each time I TRIED to skim ahead I got to a heart-wrenching part which caused me to back-up and see what lead to those circumstances! Needless to say I not only ended up reading the entire novel - I read it in less than a day!

Dedra Johnson's character of Sandrine Rogers is not only PROFOUND but is in NO WAY fictitious! Sandrine is the girl I went to school with, a girl I ate lunch with, was my cousin, once my best friend, and in some ways was ME! It is definitely a heart-wrenching tale of neglect, rejection, abuse, acceptance, and love.

I'm suprised its not the topic of many book clubs! I just hope Johnson writes another great novel!
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I really enjoyed reading this book. It had my attention from the beginning. The story line was raw, not sugar coated and touched on many topics that were very emotional. Sandrine's charcter had me rooting for her all the way. The only problem I had were the ages of the characters. I found it hard to believe that an 8-9 year old child could have so much wisdom, strength and maturity to handle every obstacle that was thrown at her. It is amazing to see that Sandrine didn't fall apart and have any psychological damage happen to her after all that she experiences in this book. How she managed to keep getting excellent grades in school and she even managed to skip a few grades because it is mentioned that she is in a class with 6th graders?? The men in the book also are mainly portrayed as either being a bunch of perverts, pediphiles or too weak to even fight hard enough to care!! I know it is in the 1970's but no one was smart enough to even report having a suspicious car lurking around a school everyday??? Sandrine's father had me slightly flabbergasted with the way he handled many situations. He was a weak character who could have been Sandrine's and Yolanda's salvation but either he choose to ignore the signs that were laid out before him or he was just too inane to comprehend the desperate help these girls needed?? (he was a country doctor...so I am sure he was educated??) Even though he finally comes to his senses towards the end...... the help he only offers is to Sandrine and not his step-daughter Yolanda who was abandoned by her own mother. I loved Sandrine's charcter but as I said before, I found it too hard for this story to believable with the ages that were presented for the characters. I think it would have worked much better if she were at least 10-12 years old.
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