Maquoketa Valley Middle School
Dear Stephen Chbosky,
I roamed the aisles of a local bookstore, looking for a book to consume my thoughts, something to get my mind off everything. As my eyes gleamed up and down the aisles of the homey emporium, a small green paperback book caught my eye. As my index finger stroked its spine, and your name appeared; I curiously picked it up. As my mind soaked up the synopsis, for a second I thought somebody was telling a story of my life. For a single moment, I thought I would see my name lingering on the page, retelling the story of my own life. So Mr. Chbosky, in the words of your character, Charlie, "This is my life, and I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be."
As I drove back from the state capitol on May 6th, I was tired and had been having a rough, but honorable day. I read an essay for a contest and had cried the entire way through, because it was hard to tell a group of strangers about the death of my mother, and I'm an emotional person anyway. Feeling rather little, and weak, I texted my best friend, Marissa Rose Harbach, wondering if she wanted to spend the night because I didn't get to see her that day. As she replied "Yes, I'd love too (smiley face)", my father and I quickly ate and went to pick her up at her humble house.
She came over, like a million times before, and we walked around town, listening to music and joking around. We sat out on my back porch till two in the morning and talked about 'the good old days' and whatever I had missed at school that day. Being the girls we are, we watched infomercials and the shopping network, laughing at the excentric people 'not wanting to be a Debbie downer,’ and thinking they should 'keep it real'. The time got away from us, being absorbed by the laughter and smiles, we didn't get to sleep until four in the morning, Marissa on the couch, and I in the recliner.
We left for a short walk around town the next morning, listening to ‘The Limousines' off her phone. We decided we looked rather scurvey, and walked back to my house. At an attempt to finish our 60's project, a huge cutout of The Beatles logo covered in lyrics, album covers, and pictures of John and Paul, we ended up just watching funny cat videos on youtube. Marissa remarked that she better get home because she needed to get a new softball glove for the up-and-coming softball season she was totally jazzed about. She called her dad, and he picked her up. But before she left, we had one of our casual conversations and she stated "I wonder what people will put in my funeral box". I laughed and told her it was called a casket, and she promised me it was called a funeral box. We went on talking and she informed me that when she died, she wanted Zingers in her 'funeral box'.
A phone call. The single phone call that changed my entire life. My best guy friend called and told me he had heard over the scanner that Marissa was in a car accident. "You're kidding, she was just at my house." "Yes, I know.. I saw you guys." "Alex, I swear if you're messing with me right now..." "Jazz, I wouldn't joke about something like that." Silence struck me, the thick type of silence you could cut with a knife and watch it fall to the floor. And then the tears came. I wasn't even sure of the details, and having lost my mother already, I was completely scared.
I called my Dad, and he didn't pick up. When he listened to my voicemail, he rushed home and I told him the news. My friend Brooklyn came over and we sat on the front porch and waited, knowing that not far from my house, a tragic accident had happened. My father walked outside, and hugged me and I knew it. I knew it, but I pretended it didn't even happen. And then behind the tears I croaked out 'She's gone?' and all my dad could say to me was 'Yes sweety, she is.' I stomped my feet in anger, a complete rush of hurt sweeping over me. Why. Why? Why. I screamed and tears rushed down my face; this wasn't happening. How could this happen? I was completely broken. I was hurt. I was going to die. I was not okay. Some people say when they hear news like that, they feel as if somebody punched them in the gut. I had felt as if somebody chewed me up, spit me out, and ran over me with a double-decker city bus.
But life went on. I attended the funeral, holding the hands of my best-friends. I didn't feel the same. There was a hole in my heart nobody could fill, no matter how many people talked to me, or how many people told me it was going to be okay, I didn't think it would. For yet another time in my life, I was almost positive the world was going to come to a brutal end. Whenever somebody would ask how I was doing, I would reply 'Good." Because I am the type of person who feels I need to be there for everybody else. I should be the one to hold everybody up. I felt that even though I didn't have my pillar anymore, I could be everybody else's.
I found your book, and enveloped myself in the life of Charlie. I found your book, and listened to you retell the life of my own. I was, and might just still be, a Charlie. I read your book and I cried, going back to all those nights I thought I couldn't go on. I read your book and laughed, at Charlie's life, knowing if somebody really wrote a book about my life, people would laugh at it too. You see, I can empathize with Charlie. I know exactly what it's like to think, "Something really is wrong with me. And I don't know what it is." I have been, "The hopeful kind of sad, the kind of sad that just needs time."
All the feelings Charlie ever had, so did I. So do I. The mixture of happiness, and complete and utter helplessness. But it's okay, because while reading your book, I figured out that maybe, other people feel the same way. I saw through the words of Charlie, that somebody somewhere just might understand. When reading your book, I finally saw that maybe I wasn't completely alone like I had figured I would be when I lost my best friend.
Not only did I see that people understand, but that having a sob story is not an excuse for pity. I saw that other people hurt, just like me. I saw that not everybody understands their emotions, and that it just might be okay. That I'm not the only kinda-but-not-entirely-broken one. I am not the only one who hurts, no matter how alone I feel, no matter how much I let the quiet of my own room fix the things that seem much too broken for repair. I am really not alone. I have all the people who think they're alone too. Somebody, somewhere, thinks that they are alone. If I could tell them anything, I would give them your book and tell them "You have Charlie, and you have me." Because nobody should ever feel completely alone. Because of you, I was never completely alone.
Your book, Mr. Chbosky, seemed to be the story of my life. Your book made me understand, maybe not understand all of my issues, but that other people have the same ones. Don't think that your book solved everything wrong that has ever happened to me, but see that you just kinda make it okay. Made it okay to be different, okay to not understand how you're so sad and happy. "Maybe it's okay to feel things, and be who you are about them." After I read 'The Perks of being a wallflower,' I realized I am not alone. I think the only way to close this letter would be to say, just as Charlie did, "Please believe that things are good with me, and even when they're not, they will be soon enough."