Letters From Young Readers

There is nothing more exhilarating or humbling for me than getting a letter from a young reader telling me how much one of my books has affected her and changed her life. I think this may be one of the most wonderful aspects of writing novels for young people, for it is more often when we are young that we are transformed by something we read. Those books we remember from childhood and adolescence stay with us for the rest of our lives and in some profound and real way shape who we become as adults. I believe this is because we recognize in those early readings something that is perhaps still latent within us--a potential, an echo of our future self. Those stories that so deeply move us as young people give shape and words to what is as-yet unformed and unrealized within us, and so they are our guides, the maps to who we will become. More famous authors receive thousands of these letters (imagine the author of the Harry Potter series); I have received a relatively few. But numbers do not matter. The letters I have been sent from those unknown young people, almost always girls in their mid-teens, have stayed with me just as my books have stayed with them. They seem to be the voice of my angel coming through the words of an adolescent girl., reminding me to stay true to my vision both in my writing and in my life.