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August 03 , 2008

Sealed with a Kiss: An American Love Story in Letters


Drawn from an extraordinary collection of over four hundred perfectly preserved personal letters, Sealed with a Kiss is a coming-of-age story, a romance, and a glimpse of an America poised on the brink of change. Anyone who remembers having a pen pal, scribbling envelopes with codes like S.W.A.K, or even just falling in love will recognize themselves in its story—and savor its vision of not just a unique moment in time, but also a timeless love. In 1957, Bob Zielsdorf is thirteen and living an ordinary middle-class suburban existence in York, Pennsylvania. On a trip to Massachusetts to visit a friend, he meets fourteen-year-old Fran Jordan. Though they spend less than an hour together (admittedly, an hour that includes some kissing, thanks to a local variation on Spin the Bottle), they agree to write. Remarkably, they do, beginning a correspondence that will last for eight years, encompass hundreds of letters, and end with an enduring marriage. As Bob and Fran move from middle school into high school and college, they never live in the same town or even the same state. Long distance calls are still too expensive to be a relationship staple. Instead, the teenagers’ bond, which begins as friendship and only later deepens into love, is forged through writing. Describing high school and college, family and friends, home and travel, frustrations and dreams, practical jokes and serious car accidents, companionship and “chemistry,” the letters paint a vivid and unselfconscious picture of two lives in transition from childhood innocence to adult choice.
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