« Back to National Winners

Letters About Literature National Winners 2011

National Honor Winner, Level 1: Tristan Tudor, MT

Dear Lisa Graff,

Your book Umbrella Summer had my “umbrella” closing bit by bit and chapter by chapter. If this story has taught me anything, it would be how hard and how much bravery it takes to see the sunlight sometimes. Of course, in the end it’s all worth the pain and tears since you get to be yourself again. Your story has brought me to peace and happiness, to a different place in my life.

The whole plot in Umbrella Summer was easy for me to relate to, and connect with. I bonded with your main character, Annie Richards. I felt just like I was Annie in the story. I know what it feels like to be in a shadow with a thunderstorm of worry and sadness and my “umbrella” blocking out the sun. In your book Annie was dealing with her brother’s death. I’ve been there. I’m writing this to you, because my dad’s fiancé was killed in a car accident three years ago. I’ve had an “umbrella” of sadness covering me for years, and then I found your book. When I read about Annie taking her mom back into her brother’s room, I got the courage to ask my dad if we could go visit the cemetery where we buried his fiancé, and he said yes. It was really difficult for me to ask him that, because we haven’t really talked about her for some time. After talking to him I felt so much better, like I was a flying bird: Free, calm, and changed.

I hope you realize how much of an impact you have had on me and the way I now look at my life. This book has been like a friend that went the direction I had to go, and understood me along the way. I really hope other people can close their “umbrellas” as well as I could by reading your story. The journey through your book gave me the ability to see the sunlight again and I appreciate that.

Tristan Tudor