Two good friends happen upon a love letter written from prison. Curiosity and compassion inspire them to write back. Little do they know that the correspondence that follows will bring their own desires and pain to the surface.
Classmates Li Chia-Mei and Chang Kai-Hsin are very different people. Chia-Mei is an excellent athlete and a bit of a tomboy; she says what she means, and would rather be playing sports with the boys than do anything else. Kai-Hsin is an intelligent and gentle soul from a wealthy family who has won the admiration of everyone in her class. Yet despite their differences, these two have always been friends.
One day, the girls discover a lost letter originally sent from prison. It turns out to be a love letter, its pages full of hope and heartbreak, that concludes with a pained inquiry as to why the recipient hasn’t written back. The girls, deeply moved, decide to answer the letter, and a correspondence begins. Yet as their epistolary relationship grows, other bonds begin to fall apart. Kai-Hsin’s first date with a male classmate causes a nervous outbreak that makes her emotionally withdrawn; Chia-Mei’s parents divorce, and she is force to move to her aunt’s house, away from her father and brother, and help her aunt run a food stall at the night market all summer. As the two young women invest very different conceptions of love into their anonymous letters, conflicts arise that threaten to blow the friendship apart.
In Letters from Prison, Lin Man-Chiu brings us a tale of growth, fragmentation, and the difficulty of hope. Through vivid detail and careful plot construction, Lin imbues her characters with a psychological depth that makes their pain accessible to readers who have never shared it, and offers comfort to those who have.