Photo: McKenna Lynch and Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander
Dear Joyce Carol Oates,
I am Franky. I didn't know that when I opened your book, but I do now. I picked up your book looking curiously at the cover. I wondered why there were eyes staring blankly back at me, so I checked it out. I began it late at night and carefully read each word. Then it hit me - I am Franky. I looked at her life and saw myself every time. I had to put the book down at times so I didn't cry. Franky couldn't deal with her parents either, and this made me feel connected to her. I became one with the book. It was a great feeling being able to have someone understand.
When I was very little, my family had some problems. It was hard when my parents got a divorce. I thought there was no one for me to relate to. Freaky Green Eyes changed the way I felt about the divorce, I was really depressed because T still loved my father just like Franky did. The way you showed that one parent could turn a child against the other really hit me. My dad is like Reid Pierson, not abusive, but he sometimes tries to turn me against my mom. I never knew who to pick: mom or dad.
Franky talked to me. She made me feel it was okay to choose my own path. I sat down and decided who had been there for me and who hadn't. My mom was my choice; Franky chose her dad. The way a whole new person came out of her made me want to be better. This book told my story with slightly different circumstances. I now see that parents telling you the truth is hard, but so much easier to get over. It hurt at first, but then it wasn't so bad. I got over it. Knowing hurts, but not knowing destroyed Franky's family for good. Her mom was banished from her own kids, not allowed to talk to them or call.
I was a sad, tormented, and angry kid when I was little. No one wanted to be my friend. I was always in trouble, stealing, cheating and even lying. I was a trouble-maker. Everyday I would be in the principal's office. She always was telling me, "Don't do that again, okay?" But I did.
I finished your book determined, I wasn't going to be pushed around. I chose my own path. Unfortunately Frank chose too late and lost her mom forever.
Your book turned my world upside down. I walked with more love. School was more enjoyable. I talked with my friends, laughed and messed around again. I realized there was no reason to dwell on something upsetting, to just move on. In the end Franky was still upset, but she learned to just let it go. Everything wasn't her fault. I now can accept my family and myself for who we are. The anger has turned to understanding, and I am just better off that I know how much worse I could have had it. You have truly shown me the way to peace of mind. This was a real gift that none of my best friends could give to me. Your book is something I will always treasure the most. Thank you so much for all you have done for me.