Emlee Baptiste is a 12-year old girl living in Mermaid's Hand, a floating community steeped in tradition, off of the Gulf Coast. The people of Mermaid's Hand consider themselves sea people, protected by the Seafather, who lives under the sea. People in Em's community believe that the Seafather provides everything they need and what they need will come to them, brought in by the tide. Emlee loves her heritage but she longs to visit the seapeople under the waves or explore life on dry land. Em places a letter in a bottle, hoping to receive a response.
Kayamanira Matarayi is a political prisoner on a small island near Indonesia. Kaya is accused of being a separatist leader and sparking an uprising in her small mountain community. The government has placed her in a floating prison known as "Lotus on the Ruby Lake". Ruby Lake is a volcanic crater and the mountain people believe that it is guarded and protected by the Lady of the Ruby Lake. Kaya has a pet crow named Sumi and it is Sumi that delivers Em's letter to Kaya, suspended high above the fire-y lake. Kaya wonders if the Lady of the Ruby Lake is responsible for the strange circumstances in which she received the bottled letter.
Pen Pal is told through the written letters of Em and Kaya, journal entries of both girls, and various government emails. As the story progresses, the relationship between Kaya and Em takes a perilous turn and brings Emlee Baptiste far from the safety of Mermaid's Hands.
I received an autographed copy of Pen Pal in exchange for an honest review.