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Sam's Letters to Jennifer    by James Patterson order for
Sam's Letters to Jennifer
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Whether in his serial chillers starring Alex Cross and the Women's Murder Club, or love stories like this one, James Patterson always has the common touch. He is a master at putting ordinary people (with whom we can easily identify) into extraordinary situations. This creates a tension that tugs us along through touching tales, which also tug hard at our hearts.

Sam's Letters to Jennifer is no exception and is full of surprises, the first being Sam's identity. The story plays out from the point of view of Jennifer, a columnist who's already had a large share of tragedy in a relatively young life. She blames herself for not being there when her beloved husband Danny died of a surfing accident in Oahu, and for the subsequent loss of their baby. But she's strong, a survivor who feels that 'There's always hope in small things.' Sam is Jennifer's best friend, who has always been on her side, there for her in the worst of times. Now Sam is in a coma after a fall. Jennifer rushes to the hospital, and stays in Sam's 'old white clapboard lake house' at the resort community of Lake Geneva. There she encounters a childhood friend, Brendan, who is now a doctor. In between visits to Sam, Jennifer gradually becomes aware of the re-emergence of dormant feelings, as a gentle romance develops.

Then tragedy strikes once more. With Sam still in a coma, Jennifer finds strength from about a hundred letters that Sam left for her, full of surprises about Sam's own life and long-term mystery relationship. Sam's Letters to Jennifer is a gentle tear-jerker about the circles of life, love and family, reminiscent of novels by Nicholas Sparks. Sam's story ends, and a new one begins for Jennifer on the same simple, compelling note, 'Love never dies.'

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