In seventh grade, Caitlin's teacher tells her that as an assignment she can pick a country to have a pen-pal from. Caitlin thinks Zimbabwe sounds cooler than the other options. Little does she know that this one decision will change the course of her life and that of her future pen-pal's.
Martin receives Caitlin's letter and is quickly sure that this American girl's life is very different from his. He share's his family's small apartment with his parents and siblings as well as another family. His family struggles with having enough food to eat and enough money to keep him and his brothers and sister in school. Still, both Marin and Caitlin like listening to the Spice Girls and hanging out with their friends. Martin is interested in finding out more about his new pen pal and if there are other things they could have in common.
The two form a fast friendship although Martin tries to keep Caitlin from finding out how different their lives truly are. But, when Caitlin's mom discovers that Martin hasn't been going to school because his family can't pay the fees she decides they have to step in.
I Will Always Write Back tells the story of Martin's perseverance even when things seem dire. This is contrasted with Caitlin's very normal suburban American adolescence. It's hard to believe that at the same time she is worrying about who will take her to a winter formal, Martin is taking a job serving tea to try to help his parents afford their rent.
This book is written (with help) by the grown-up Martin and Caitlin. If you would like a first hand look at what it was like growing up across the world from each other, check out I Will Always Write Back.
More to read: