Dear Drayton Mayrant,
Courage is not Given was a book that landed in my lap by complete chance while I was on vacation in Colorado. I was skimming a book sale when a story about a girl and grapevines caught your eye. I picked it up, added it to my $5- a- bag sack, and didn't take another look as it collected dust on my wooden bookshelf back home. I remember the day I cleaned off my shelf and found the book all over again, so I sat down and dove headfirst into the time of France and its religious persecution.
The more I read the story, the more I realized how special Feuille was. She grew up in a humble home with her father. Each day she worked more than any other fourteen- year old girl should. She had to clean their house, cook the food, and help her father with the grapes. Feuille depended on Pert Joany, her father, to survive, but as soon as the French Huguenots', a religious sect of Protestants, started being persecuted they lived in constant fear. One decision was clear to her father- Feuille must leave- now.
The cracks in Feuille’s heart were as numerous as the grape leaves her father pruned; each was created with a white hot bolt of lightning that left a startling, sizzling pain. It started with the Abbe, a priest bent on the persecution of Huguenots, and continued with the jolting wagon ride to Bordeaux, and next, the many months at sea. Feuille was abandoned. Everyone was too afraid to reach out to help an innocent girl with a condemned faith. Feuille had to learn a lesson: to retaliate from roughness and unkindness, one has to be rougher and unkind. She was never sure what was going to happen around the next corner but stood strong to whatever was thrown at her.
This book is about something bigger than I. Feuille inspired me to not depend totally on my family for comfort and survival but to stand on my own two feet as she did Feuille had to live with the anguishing fact that her father was being killed. Feuille had to fight against Abbe. She and other French Huguenots were left out.
Middle school-don't get me started. It's a place where despair doesn't just describe your energy bar, but your life. The groups and cliques destroy individuals, that feeling that they will never be able to fit in with the others shatters self-confidence. Popularity and friends are also huge factors, for friends determine whether a kid is popular or not. Ironically, most "popular" kids aren't really that popular with the rest of the class.
After I finished reading, I decided to change my life. I pruned each grapevine that wasn't needed. I made new friends with people I wanted to be friends with, not the 'fakes', the people who pretended to be my friend. They only wanted to know my deepest secrets and spread them throughout the school. I started to go outside more to enjoy the passing seasons, imagining that I was on a French hillside watching the grape leaves turn fiery red and orange. I reached out to help the kids who were being bullied and ignored. Like dust off my shoulder, I brushed the insults made to me. I started loving life more and more and felt that God was lending me courage as He had Feuille.
Although Feuille's life was much harder than mine, she inspired me to change my life for the better. Thank you, Drayton Mayrant, for creating Feuille who lent me courage to love life more with each passing moment.