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Letters About Literature National Winners 2008

Honorable Mentions, Level 2: Laura Wang

Dear Mrs. Rowling,

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive..." Years from now these words will still be ingrained in my brain. They were the start of almost a decade of reading and re-reading, of summers after summers of uncontainable anticipation for the next Harry Potter, and of a mania that still isn't over. I first heard these words when I was six, and it's been seven years since that fateful day. Now the journey is finally over, but I've learned so much on the way. After all, you've taught me about everything from love to death, heroes to redemption, and kindness to prejudice.

One of my favorite theories in Harry Potter is that love can save the world. As I poured over your books, I couldn't grasp how Harry could possibly destroy Voldemort with love. I had always thought love was that unchanging feeling you have around your family or the "true love" you see in Disney movies. To me, love was like a fantasy people only dreamed about. It was just an ordinary thing turned extraordinary and an impossible feat expected of every day people. Which is why I was extremely disappointed when Harry's secret weapon was love. However, you finally got me thinking, and it hit me. If everyone loved, there would be no Voldemort. No wars, murderers, terrorist attacks. Not even those nasty comments you hear at school. If everyone loved, maybe the world could finally be at peace.

All my life, I've been afraid of death. My grandfather died before I was one, and as I grew older, death came twice more. This, more than anything else, made my greatest fear dying. These blows made me recognize that you have to be prepared for death because once that stealthy creature steals you from this world, there's no coming back. On top of that, I realized that no one knows what happens once it takes you, and just contemplating this made my blood run cold. But the cure to my fears was printed in black and white: "Do not pity the dead...Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love." You opened my eyes to the horrors of life that can be far worse than death. The other antidote to my dread was Dumbledore's statement "to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." Finally I realized that when you die, you shouldn't be afraid of the unknown, but eager to finally discover the great mystery of death.

Lately new discriminations have infected our minds. After 9/11 and the Iraq War, people started to believe that all Muslims are terrorists. It gets under my skin and makes me sick when I hear this, and that's partly why I thought your series was brilliant. This prejudice is just like the bigotry of Muggle-borns and Slytherins, because Muggle-borns can't help what they are, like Muslims can't help what they believe. And although many terrorists are Muslim, that doesn't mean they're evil, which is also a misunderstanding of Slytherins. Your book instilled into my head that prejudice does nothing but create predicaments for our world.

I want to thank you for writing Harry Potter. Words can't describe what they've done for me. Never have I read books as enthralling, fascinating, and genuine, while still teaching me what's important. I wish I could say something better than this, but there's no other way to put it: Thank you for these books. Life just wouldn't be the same without them.


Laura Wang