ISBN-13: 9780385722438
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Published: September 2002
224 pgs
Source: Personal Library

Have you ever wondered what our life would be if we are forbidden to use certain alphabets? How would you communicate if those alphabets are omitted? By using sign language, or would you simply give up communicating?

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters covers such themes and I have to say it is one of the most extraordinary epistolary novels I read thus far. In an island of Nollop, Nevin Nollop is the creator of the well-known pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” thus having the island to be named under him. Due to this reason, the government and the people have great respect in Nevin Nollop and this sentence is preserved on a memorial to its creator on that island. One day, an alphabet “Z” falls from the inscription beneath the statue and thinking that this is some sort of a message passed down by the great late Nevin Nollop, the government bans this alphabet in all written and spoken forms. In highlighting the seriousness of the matter, they implement a penalty system in which whoever used the forbidden letter would be given a warning for the first offense, and banishment from the island for the third (and final) offense.

As more alphabets began to fall off from the inscription, the people in Nollop began to find it a challenge and in the end, they are either being banished or being forced to leave the island of their own accord. Ella Minnow Pea is the lead character of this novel, and through her letters to her family and friends we see her determination and persistance as she chose to remain in Nollop and finally to do something about it.

I have to say I absolutely loved the premise of this novel. It is so, so very clever and imaginative! I liked Ella; she is such a great character (not to mention that she is also a very brave and an intelligent girl). There are times I giggled and then sympathised with the characters as their letters seem to take on a silly note when more alphabets are being omitted, but jokes aside I can totally understand their frustrations and how tough it would be to come up with a complete sentence without having your intentions misinterpret! I don’t know about you, but I think I would now appreciate the alphabets more after reading this lovely novel.
10 Responses
  1. Suko Says:

    Melody, I think I've told you this before, but I love the look of your blog. :)

    This book sounds very enjoyable. Terrific review!

  2. Iliana Says:

    This just sounds like such a great premise for a book. I've had this on my shelf forever. I must move it up. Thank you for the review Melody!

  3. Violet Says:

    The title of this book kept putting me off. But considering you loved this book, I will have to put it on my to-read list. It does sound like a clever and imaginative plot

  4. Jenny Says:

    Apparently Mark Dunn wrote another book called Ibid, which is all in footnotes. It sounds gimmicky but after how awesome Ella Minnow Pea turned out, I think Ibid. could work too.

  5. Darlene Says:

    I'm so glad you liked this one Melody. I've heard many good things about it.

  6. Ana S. Says:

    I had so much fun with this book - I'm glad you did too!

  7. Julia Says:

    Glad you like the book, Melody. It always fun to read your thoughts on each books at your blog :)

  8. joanna Says:

    This sounds wonderful. It's been on my list since I saw Rory reading it on Gilmore Girls, one of my favorite shows. I never really knew what it was about though, this sounds so amazingly unique!

  9. The Bookworm Says:

    This book sounds really interesting. What a unique premise.

  10. This sounds a little like The Wonderful O by James Thurber, a childhood favorite of mine. Plus - what a great name for a book (and character)!

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