module 9

Module 9: Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters


Gail, G. (2003). Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters. Connecticut: Roaring Brook Press


Sunny is taking care of her family as they fall apart after the death of her sister, Jazz, in a fire. Her mother can’t eat or sleep without pills and her father has taken to drinking all the time. Her sister, who was always more beloved than she, has made a big void in the heart of her families. That is until she comes back, first by writing a letter explaining that she did not die. When she returns home though, it is obvious that she is not Jazz but some sort of imposter who knows way too much about their family. Sunny is trying to break the case to this imposter while trying to preserve her mother’s fragile state.


This story makes you turn the page. It flies by at lightning speed and keeps the reading guessing the entire time of what in the world is going on. Sunny is a very relatable character trying to get by while living in her sisters large shadow. The curiosities of this story continue to grow throughout and will leave readers questioning every contextual clue and plot point to figure the ending out. The book is such a wonderful read for all readers!

Professional Reviews

In Shattering Glass (2002), Giles gave readers a huge surprise at the book’s beginning. Here a major twist, one of several, comes at the end, though it raises more questions than it answers. Ninth-grader Sunny is not entirely sad about the death of her 18-year-old sister in a New York apartment fire. Jazz’s perfection has been a thorn to Sunny, but it was all that sustained their depressive mother and alcoholic father. Her death has pushed both parents over the edge. Then one day, a letter from Jazz arrives, and soon after, Jazz herself returns, claiming she was away and only recently learned about the fire. But this girl isn’t really Jazz, though she does resemble her and seems to know enough about her to assume her life. Both Sunny and her father realize the truth; Mother seems not to. For a while, though, everyone is willing to have Jazz alive. This is a page-turner with sharp dialogue and psychologically intriguing viewpoints. Readers are continually kept off balance as Jazz and her motives change like shapes in a fun-house mirror. But when Sunny asks her final question, “What have I done?” readers might wish for a clearer answer.


Cooper, I. (2003). [Review of Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters]. Booklists. Retrieved from:

Library Uses

This book is perfect for discussing unreliable characters and what clues lead to determining a reliable narrator or not in addition to discussing context clues to determine what a reader thinks the ending means.