October 25, 2002
Dear Ms. Wells,
Sitting on my couch next to my dad with our puppy lying at my feet, I think about what matters most in life. Why I get up each morning with a smile on my face. Why I want to begin the day instead of sleeping though it. Life has so many small gifts - gifts that no amount of money could pay for. Gifts that most of the time you completely overlook. Sidda Walker, the leader of the Walker children in Little Altars Everywhere, sees those gifts. She acknowledges the small things in life that have an enormous impact on how she views the world.
While Sidda grows up in the middle of a chaotic and disturbed family, she doesn't see it that way. She doesn't focus on the fact that her parents are alcoholics, or that her family is looked down upon by most of the small, sheltered town she lives in. She looks at the small pleasures. The pleasures that are continually overlooked by the hectic and muddled lives that most of us live today. We are all so busy trying to fit as much as we possibly can into one day that we never have time to sit and think. Think about what's important to us. Think about what we would like to do with our lives. Think about those people that we love and care for the most. Sidda does. She looks at her mother and sees how energized and wound up she gets when she is with the other "YA - YAS." She sees how her younger sister gets so much pleasure out of presenting the gifts she has to the rest of her family. She sees how cute her brother is when trying to imitate their father. Sidda shows me how to be strong. She makes me want to look at life a little differently. Maybe try to be a little less judgmental and a little more open.
Your writing helps me see and understand who I am and who I want to be. Sitting with my dad on the couch is a gift in itself. It's a gift of love, and of family. In my eyes this is the greatest gift of all. If you look at life for all the bad things it has to bring, you will only make yourself miserable. If Sidda had only seen her life as numerous disappointments, that would be how everyone else would see her life as well. Instead, I see Sidda as a determined individual with hopes for her future. If I only saw my life as continuous setbacks and obstacles that are too difficult to conquer, there is no possible way I could make anything of myself. Things happen in our lives that we would rather they didn't, but focusing on them is not what makes life so precious.
Your book has prompted me to see life for the small gifts. When I laugh so hard my stomach hurts, I know that life is worth living. When my brother calls me from college and tells me that he loves and misses me, I know that I have people in this world that care about me. When someone new smiles and says "hello" as I walk down the hallway at my school, I realize that we are all in similar situations. Everyone wants to be loved and know that they have a purpose in our crazy world. We are all searching for something in our lives, and your book has helped me see that sometimes what we are searching for has been right in front of our face for so long. Thank you.
Robert Service High School, Anchorage, Alaska
Teacher: Mrs. Patti Irwin