> Letters About Literature
2007 Winner - New Hampshire, Level I
Dear Frances Hodgson Burnett,
Your book, A Little Princess, taught me to never let someone treat you in a way that emotionally or physically hurts. My dad's girlfriend, Jen, always makes a big deal out of everything. She picks on every little thing I do.
At dinner if I had one of my arms on the table, she would say. "Are you tired?" If my answer was yes or no she would tell me, "Get it off the table right this second." My dad or Jen would always put food on. my plate for me, and never let me do it myself. I couldn't get up until I ate the portion of food that was on my plate. Some nights I would go home feeling sick to my stomach because I was forced to eat food that my body couldn't handle. That was the some thing that happened to Sara, but she felt sick because of hunger.
Both my dad and I have breathing problems, so whenever we had to clear our throats, Jen would glare at us. When we were in the car she would turn the music up so loud so she couldn't hear us. Reading your book made me realize that I am not the only one that has someone making a big deal out of everything and controlling what I do. When I finished your book I went to my mom and told her everything that happened. She talked to my dad and Jen and most of those things have not happened since. I am so glad that you wrote this book because it inspired me to make my life better.
2007 Winner - New Hampshire, Level II
Dear Davida Wills Hurwin,
When I was eleven years and finishing the fifth grade I decided I hated myself. I couldn't deal with all of the changes in my life. It was hard enough to start at a new school but being thousands of miles away from my best friends was too much. So I slowly stopped eating. At the time it seemed like the only thing in my life I could control. Somehow I managed to hide what I was doing and going through. But a few months into the sixth grade it became noticeable. Everyone around me was worried but I was blind from the fact that I was ruining myself and couldn't that there was a problem. I had to keep going because if I didn't I'd have to face all my fears.
Sometime around then I found your book, A Time For Dancing. As I read the book I instantly connected to the characters. It was a comfort for me to be able to just read through the pages, to fall into a life where someone was going through more pain and suffering more than I was.
I denied my problem for months...okay a little more than a year. Everybody was trying to show me that what I was doing was really hurting myself. I remember thinking, "You're not me, you have no idea what I'm going through. This is for the best, everyone REALLY wants me to keep starving myself." But they didn't. It didn't make any difference to me how many doctors they made me see, nothing helped.
During the sixth grade I came across your book, The Farther You Run. By that time I was desperate and needed someone to understand me, I felt completely alone. Though I didn't know it then, the book would be the biggest help to me yet. I found a comfort in Sam's thoughts and how she hid from the truth that her best friend was dead. That was the exact feeling that was running through me nonstop because like Sam I no longer saw my best friends. By the time I finished the book I realized that I had to try to get better and overcome my fears just like Sam overcame hers.
"Dance for me...As long as you can...AS HARD AS YOU DARE..." That quote, from The Farther You Run, has kept me from turning back. Every time I had a bad day or thought about returning to my old habits it stopped me. Maybe because it's what helped Sam move on from her friend's death but it reminded me I needed to keep trying.
It's been three years since my eating disorder first began and two years recovering and discovering why I let myself fall into that endless pit of self-destruction. Just like Sam after Julie's death I have learned to live with the past and work towards a brighter future. I understand now that I did those things because I was lonely and angry at my parents for making me move across the country to a place where I knew no one. It's been along journey and every day I keep trying. Going back is no longer and option.
I just wanted to say thank you for opening my eyes to the truth and introducing me characters that I could rely on during the hardest part of my life. But more than anything I wanted to thank you for writing The Farther You Run because if Sam hadn't learned to accept her life I'm not sure that I would have either.
2007 Winner - New Hampshire, Level III
Dear Anne Rice,
Two years ago, I read your book Memnoch The Devil from the Vampire Chronicles. The Vampire Chronicles have become one of my favorite series of books because I love how realistic the characters seem despite the notion that they are vampires. I simply get sucked into your crazy, twisted plots and love finding myself engulfed in such a unique and amazing writing style.
When I read Memnoch The Devil, I was not prepared for how beneficial this book would be for me in a time of my life when I was beginning to question my beliefs. I was raised as a Lutheran and at the time, my confirmation was approaching, but I did not want to be confirmed into a religion that I did not accept. I did not want to proclaim myself as a Lutheran or a Christian.
Since I was pushing away from a mindset that I had followed all my 1ife, I felt lost in what I wanted to believe and follow. I did not want to completely deny the existence of God because I had no idea what to think about the possibility of a higher power. My changing perspective, though, did not include the Christian God. ". ..forgive me, but there seems to be something wrong with this whole idea (329)."
My uncertainty of religion was growing larger everyday, until I found myself reading Memnoch The Devil. This book has had a lasting impression on me. It presented new possibilities that helped me untangle my confused thoughts. The main plot is Memnoch trying to convince Lestat to help him win a fight with God, but I love the ideas you opened as to why God allows such suffering to exist in His world.
One idea I specifically remember is that maybe God created the universe to see what will eventually evolve into Him. Maybe, like many people, God himself does not even know who He is or how He came to be. "...observe then what your Creation means to you (319)!" I think this is a very intriguing idea that God could be waiting to see if we evolve into something like Him to learn more of His own becoming.
Another idea I love in this book is how in order for individuals to reach heaven, they have to accept that God is not to blame for all the chaos and suffering in the world. He is not guilty of neglecting His Creation. "My Light is for those who would receive it (356)." It makes more sense to me that people should accept God's true love and it is not His wish to watch His Creation torture itself.
Whether there is a God or not, Memnoch The Devil led me towards a more content mindset and gave me new perspectives on the possibilities in this world. Your book eased my troubled state of mind, as I stopped questioning my beliefs and instead accepted what I felt was right. I do not follow a specific religion, but Memnoch The Devil opened many doors for me, and "I am just beginning to imagine … (374)" what I will learn in the future.
Your Avid Reader,