Carlisle High School, Carlisle
Dear Katherine Paterson,
Everyone has their own way of figuring out what they want to do with their life. People spend years trying to discover who they are or what they want to do the next forty to fifty years. I was the over-zealous fourth grader who wanted to be a lawyer, a dancer, and an astronaut all at once. That is, until I read Bridge to Terabithia.
Through the ink and paper that was wound together to make that novel, I found myself connecting to something like I never had before. As a fourth grader I hated reading, something I find rather shameful of myself now. Regardless of that fact, I joined my school's battle of the books team and was given a list of books I should read. The first month was complete torture filled with books that were painstakingly boring to my overactive mind. I hated sitting there trying to read those stupid, make-you-think sort of books. I much preferred my Judy Bloom's and Geronimo Stilton's. Then out of curiosity I picked up your book. Little did I know I was in for the life change of the century.
A world unlike anything I had ever imagined swirled off those pages. I was enveloped in a sense of understanding and longing while an emotional journey started that, I'm sure, will follow me the rest of my life. Never in my short time on Earth had I felt so devoted to anything, I had to be forced to set the thing down. In the end, I cried. No, I bawled like I was with Jesse at the funeral. It felt like I'd known Leslie my entire life and sometimes I felt like I was her.
Leslie and I were tomboys, Leslie and I had only a couple friends, and Leslie and I had imaginations that were just waiting to burst out. In fourth grade I had become the outcast of my school since I had moved houses. One of my friends got mad about that and decided to turn the rest of our friends against me. I was as alone as Jesse was at the beginning of the book and Leslie as well. It hurt not to have someone to call a friend. So naturally, as I progressed through your book and watched Jesse change from being filled with anger and depression to letting it go and learning to be himself, I began to do so as well. I even began to hope I'd one day find my own Leslie.
That was the first transformation. It was one that influenced my life exponentially because now I am myself around everyone and I won't change who I am even if it's considered uncool. I wanted to be more like Leslie after finishing this book. She was so talented and free spirited; I had to be like her. I had to try everything and be myself while doing so.
I've said a lot about how the book influenced my attitude, but now I'm going to go back to that opening paragraph. I wanted to be everything and nothing all at once. To be honest, I had no idea what I dreamed of being as an adult. After closing the book and wiping away excess tears, I knew in that moment all I wanted to do. I was going to be an author, but not just any author, no, you inspired me to be so much more; I was going to make a difference in someone's life like you did mine.
Never had I been so driven in a goal. I started writing right away and I haven't stopped since. One day, I want to complete a work that will make someone enjoy reading, change their life, or create a world where they can escape. You did all that for me through your book, and now it's my turn to return the favor.
Bridge to Terabithia changed everything for me and made me into who I am today. I always look back to your book as the beginning of it all, or at least the beginning of my future. For that, I thank you, and because of it I will always work to live my life to the fullest and have it truly be my own, not controlled by others.