Entry from the 2018 Letters About Literature competition
Dear Shannon Hale,
Reading the book Dangerous was like riding a roller coaster of emotions. One book allowed me to pursue dreams, survive danger, have hope, grieve losses, and endure pain. All of these things I felt by embodying Maisie Brown through your words. Before reading your book, I felt almost like Maisie did before the NASA project. Everything was peaceful. I had good friends. My life was tranquil. Not long after reading, however, my parents got divorced. Everything sort of crumbled after that. There was, well, is fighting. Yelling. Hatred. I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach, that one that you quite shake. And little did I know this at the time, but my parents getting divorced was in many ways the best thing that has happened to me so far. It showed me that I can endure, that I can overcome, and find a balance again. Even after mayhem.
Laying in my bed some nights just after my Dad moved out, I would think about Dangerous. It would put things in perspective for me. I used to think that this time in my life was similar to when your story began to climax, where things seemed really scary, action packed and overwhelming. “This part. Jonathan and I holding hands and running with nothing chasing us, the after-rain street shiny as Christmas ornaments, the night behind us, the theater ahead. My right hand is in his left, and Jonathan turns to look at me. Looks at me for no other reason than he wants to. And this is where I’ll end, before I know what happens next.” The last line gives me goosebumps every time I read it because you never really know what’s going to happen next, do you? Life throws things at you. It’s how you recieve and deal with them that counts. While I layed in bed those nights, I used to imagine that I would have what Maisie had by the end of the book. Not necessarily the boyfriend, or the romance, but the peacefulness and the freedom that she portrays through those last few words that makes me smile. It’s the uncertainty that she enjoys so much, because it’s not timid uncertainty that she feels. It’s pure and safe, and she knew in that moment that she was happy and that she had the right to have hope. That is what I hoped and prayed for on those late nights lying awake. I think I’m starting to have it. As time has passed, I realize it is true, and that holding out for the resolution, similar to the one in your novel (that made my heart glow), will be worth it.
Nowadays things have calmed down for me. Not only did my parents’ divorce show me I was strong, it showed me who my real friends are. I know who will stand by my side no matter how upset, angry or devastated I am. Things aren’t perfect like they used to be, and never will be again. But things are a new kind of perfect now. There are new people, new places, and a new me. A stronger me. Thank you for writing Dangerous and inspiring me to go on and discover who I could become.