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Letters About Literature National Winners 2011

National Honor Winner, Level 1: Hanna Lee, TX

Dear Tony Abbot,

Were you ever the person standing alone in a corner? The last to get picked for a game? I was. What I wore, ate, and thought was completely different from my classmates. Eyes that reflected everything in the minds of their owners shot disgusted glares at me. Everyone stayed away from me. Ignoring me. I didn’t have any friends. I wanted to have friends like the other people. It always felt like my heart was an orange, filled with juice at first and then getting squeezed and squeezed until there was hardly any juicy happiness left inside.

This is the honest truth. When I first read your book, Firegirl, I wasn’t that interested. It’s another story about some boy and there’s probably going to be a girl that the boy likes and whatever. That’s what I thought. So when the teacher said that there was going to be a new student, I was certain that it was going to be this Firegirl. I imagined a beautiful girl with long fiery hair, bright red nails, large glowing eyes, and the other stuff that authors usually use to make fire as human as possible. How wrong I was. I couldn’t believe that Firegirl was the person you made her to be. This was unlike any other story I read.

From the moment Firegirl appeared I was captured by the flowing words of your story. It felt like I was there with Torn when he watched as his classmates make fun of Firegirl. I was furious at them. I couldn’t believe that they would make fun of someone just because of what they looked like. I wanted to jump into the story and yell at them. I found myself arguing with the characters in the story and crying along with Firegirl. What other person would know better than me about being left out? I’m a person who gets kicked out of everything and then getting thrown soccer balls at. Yet here was a person who matched my sufferings. Firegirl seemed like my friend. We cried together and got glares together. I was oblivious to soccer-ball-throwing people. For the first time in a long time, I was happy. I had found a friend.

This book brought happiness to my life. I was found smiling and no longer self-pitying myself in the corner. I learned that although there was no one for me right now, there was always a friend for someone in the world. Firegirl taught me that no matter how mean other people are to you, if there is one person that is truly your friend that is better than a million people that are half-friends.

So now I say, thank you for writing this book and giving me a friend and more importantly, hope.

Hanna Lee