Title: Letters from Sadie
Author: Darla Hedrick Quinn
Genre: Non-Fiction / Epistolary
Reviewed by: Manik Chaturmutha
Letters from Sadie by Darla Hedrick Quinn is a heartfelt non-fiction novel. It is a collection of letters from the author’s grandmother, Sadie, to her family during her stay in a sanatorium. The letters date back to the early 20th century, during the onset of worldwide tuberculosis. TB was a dangerous disease back then, and patients were mostly sent to isolated sanatoriums. The letters in the novel portray the desolate conditions in such places.
The author divides the letters into two parts; the first part chronicles the initial few months of Sadie’s stay. The tone of these letters is sorrowful and hopeful at the same time. Sadie talks about getting better and returning to her home. The second part has letters from the months before her death. These letters feel like Sadie has already given up on her life.
The author also connects the conditions during the onset of TB and COVID. She includes a comprehensive guide for caring for patients in an assisted living facility. A history of tuberculosis and Norton State Tuberculosis Sanatorium is also a part of the book. In Letters from Sadie, Quinn has succeeded in combining facts with feelings. Darla Quinn has collected letters, photographs, and newspaper cuttings in this novel, making the book intriguing for the reader. The letters portray a mother’s love for her children and exploration of an individual’s feelings. They evoke feelings of love, fear, hope, and suffering in the reader.
The grammar in the letters is abrupt at times with some spelling mistakes and misused words, however this is what is to be expected in a collection of letters, rather than original manuscript, making it hard to read at times. Through this book, the author has opened a window into the past for a crucial topic of caretaking in assisted living facilities. The author explored the psyche of patients living in desolate conditions through Sadie’s story making this an engaging experience.
Letters from Sadie is an epistolary non-fiction that is a brilliant read through further exploration of history and an individual’s psyche.