Dear Mr. Somerset Maugham,
The way people choose to live their lives has always fascinated me. Each person is so unique, and no single life is ever the same. Some people decide to live a more practical life, becoming business people and working until retirement; others throw that notion completely out the window and make things up as they go along. At this point, as a junior in high school, I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life. Until I read your book Of Human Bondage, I thought that I needed a plan for my life and needed to start making things happen for me now. I would sit up late, chitchatting with my friends, and they seemed to know exactly what they were doing with their lives, down to where they planned to go to college and where they wanted to move after they were done. I would sit next to them, fighting back tears. I thought for the longest time that there was something wrong with me, that I was too indecisive. I knew college was where I wanted to go, but I had no idea where or what for. Your book taught me that it's okay to not know my life's plan; that it's okay to wander aimlessly until what I really want hits me square in the head.
Philip quickly became someone I could identify with. Although I did not lose my mother at a young age, nor was I forced to live with my aunt and uncle, Philip and I share the fact that in the pit of our stomachs, we know we are destined for a different kind of life. For Philip it was art, and for me it's history. I have become so passionate about learning things regarding different aspects of European history in the past year that it became my inspiration to read this book 5 months ago. I was interested to see what culture was like during the early 20th century, and I was surprised to see how innovative and open the culture was, especially in the art community Philip joins when he goes to France. I realize that History isn't exactly the highest paying gig right out of college, but I love it. If I have learned anything from this book, it is that I should always do what I love, even if trying to find what that is makes me a sort of Candide, hopelessly optimistic for something that may never come, and I'm becoming more open to that idea as the days progress. And that is all because of Philip's life story. It wasn't glamorous, but it was full of experience and lessons, and that's exactly what I want.
Never in my life had I fallen so in love with the language and dialog in a book. One phrase could make me cry or laugh, both being extremely real and meaningful. I would fold the pages with my favorite quotes and go back to read them over and over again, just so I could evoke the powerful emotion they made me feel one more time. I loved how sinister Philip could be toward someone one moment and how much he could love them the next. I would laugh at his eloquent use of language while describing how he would like to murder Mildred in an alley. This sounds crazy, but knowing Philip the way I did made it completely okay and even necessary. The thoughts in Philip's head were so complex and unexpected that it sometimes would force me to quit reading, letting my own mind ponder the questions on his mind. I had never before connected with a character like that, and I think that is why I take what he learned so much to heart.
What your character has taught me is indispensable. I have learned about struggles, about love and loss, about what life is really about for someone who is on a different path. He was bound in human form, forced to face the struggles that we all must face sooner or later. He did what he thought was best, and yes, he made mistakes. But he learned, and he took what he learned and made it into something beautiful: a life that was completely his own. All I have ever wished for is a life that I could be happy about, a life that will continue to teach me and push me farther than I am comfortable; and for me, a girl on a journey, that's all life needs to be.