I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives

Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 4 - 8Grades 3 - 6n/a5.682879
The 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.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published on May 3, 2016 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0316241334
ISBN-13: 9780316241335
38 Book Reviews
  • pairofkeets
    pairofkeetsWednesday, April 21, 2021 at 2:19 pm55 stars
    True story!
    • horse123456
      horse123456Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 2:44 pm
      This book has great reviws and seems interesting so I might try reading it!
      • bsc
        bscThursday, April 15, 2021 at 7:56 am55 stars
        This story opened up my eyes to other parts of our world, instead of just the United States. Caitlin Alifirenka is just a normal 7th grade girl. She has crushes on boys, wishes she could stay up later, and shops at the mall 24/7.  Martin Ganda is a boy from Zimbabwe, Africa. His life is hard- their family has no shoes, is going on the brink of poverty, and all sleep in the same room. Even with all of that going on, Martin is the best student in his whole school. He plans to finish school, unlike his mother and father. Unless some school fees will have to cut him off short. So when Caitlin has an assignment to write to a penpal in a different country, Caitlin picks Zimbabwe, for it sounds the most interesting. She asks in the letter what Zimbabwe is like, what they do there, what is their favorite so and so. Back in Zimbabwe, Martin is one of the smartest ones, so he is given one of the ten letters that received the classroom. His letter was from Caitlin, and asked him what life was like. Martin wrote back what they did and things like that.  But secretly, Martin was holding back. He was worried Caitlin wouldn't want to keep on writing if she found out that he was very poor. The letters are continuing, and both friends feel closer than they've ever been with anyone before. Caitlin goes through boy drama, and Martin is going through the drama of school fees and poverty. So Caitlin starts sending him money in their letters. This makes a tremendous impact on Martin's family and life. Realizing the impact, Caitlin and her family start sending Martin and his family care packages, gifts, and money. It seems like they've gotten over any obstacle. Except one. College. Trying to bring Martin to the US, Caitlin and her mother work frantically for colleges and money. Both pen pals have helped each other. Can they help each other one last time? A true story that is reread worthy, I Will Always Write Back, is definitely a fantastic book. Happy reading!
        • sirireads2
          sirireads2Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 9:48 pm55 stars
          What an amazing story! Martin is one of the sweetest characters EVER!! Caitlin is easy to relate to and funny as well. This book is life altering. It is inspiring that just one simple act of kindness could alter a person´s life in such a dramatic way. Did I mention AMAZING! I also love the pictures in the middle, how real they were. It is awesome how something this entertaining and riveting could be real. It´s a big world out there!! Please follow me I am REALLY desperate!!
          • unicornnia
            unicornniaThursday, September 19, 2019 at 3:34 pm55 stars
            This true story was sooo inspiring and it proved how strong their bond was. Starting as a 7th grade project, these two kids from different sides of the world, grew up and formed a bond that would never be broken as pen pals. A kid from Africa dealing with poverty and a girl from America, help each other survive and open each other's eyes in the best way possible!
            • bookwormilg
              bookwormilgMonday, July 9, 2018 at 7:40 am55 stars
              You can read this book over and over and never get bored!!
              • bookwormilg
                bookwormilgMonday, July 9, 2018 at 7:31 am55 stars
                AMAZING!!!!! This book changed my life! I cried and laughed at the same time! Truly incredible, inspiring, and a must-read for children of all ages!
                • bookworm 15Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 9:55 am
                  this book changed my world. It taught me to look at the world a different way.
                  • vavazaza
                    vavazazaSaturday, December 30, 2017 at 8:01 am55 stars
                    My friend told me about it and now I want to get the book
                    • hummingbird1
                      hummingbird1Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 2:33 pm55 stars
                      For a class project, Caitlin has to choose a country to have a pen pal in. There are a lot of choices, but Caitlin decides to pick Zimbabwe, a country in Africa, to send her letter to. She has no idea that by picking Zimbabwe, her life is changed forever. Martin is living in Zimbabwe when he gets a letter all the way from America. He decides as soon as he reads that letter that he will respond no matter what. He doesn't know by that writing back to Caitlin, his life is also changed. Martin and Caitlin keep sending letters to each other, and those letters turn into much more than a class project - it turns into a huge friendship. This incredible true story is one of my favorite books. I could read it again and again. I highly recommend this book to boys and girls ages 11+.