In addition to this assignment, as part of their long-lived friendship, Lydia periodically assigns Cassie and Emily secret missions (or "secret assignments") ranging from baking to shoplifting.The Pen Pal Project gets off to a bumpy start, with each girl unsure of how much to reveal about herself to the strangers at Brookfield.
Lydia, Emily and Cassie are three tenth grade girls at Ashbury High, a private high school in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia.
As part of an English class assignment they must write letters to students at neighboring high school Brookfield, which has a terrible reputation.
As a result, Charlie obsesses about the girl who made the prank call that led to his humiliation, which happens to be Emily, on a secret assignment from Lydia.
But Emily won't reveal the truth, admonishing him to let it go.
The girls are skeptical but eager to dash off letters, wondering about the possibilities of a workable project between the "Ashbury snobs" and the "lowlife Brooker kids." As it turns out, their new pen pals are boys Sebastian, Charlie and Matthew.
Moriarty uses the difference in tone in the early exchanges between the girls and boys to establish character and set up events to come.Emily's pen pal Charlie takes her letter at face value, believing she is vapid and superficial - but Emily is simply seeking the approval of her English teacher with her bland letter.Cassie tells her pen pal Matthew all about her counseling sessions, but doesn't reveal why she is in therapy: her father died from leukemia the previous year, an event which deeply affected all three girls.A Year of Secret Assignments tells the story of three private school girls who are forced to write letters to boys at a public high school with a bad reputation.Throughout this experience, all the students learn about expectations, honesty, and themselves.Matthew writes back brief and violent letters, uninterested in getting to know Cassie.As the letters continue, the pen pals slowly start to trust each other: Emily takes charge of teaching Charlie how to date, Lydia and Seb trade "covert missions" to test each other's daring, and after a great deal of one-sided correspondence, Cassie and Matthew start to bond over a mutual love of music.Cassie and Matthew agree to meet so she can give him some information on children's rights that will help him get out of some trouble at school, but he never shows up.Lydia and Emily learn that there is no one named Matthew at Brookfield and begin to worry that Cassie is going insane.The novel is a story of self-discovery, of girls and boys who come out from behind their words and realize they have been transformed.This Study Guide consists of approximately 50 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Year of Secret Assignments.