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Tiffany's Letter to Patricia Mccormick
By Tiffany Shock
Genre: Non-fiction Level: High School 10-12
Year: 2007 Category: Letters About Literature

Dear Ms. McCormick,

I'm sure every author would like to believe that they've made some sort of impact upon their readers, no matter how small.  I would just like to thank you, personally, for reaching me in a time where I was more than alone because I wouldn't allow anyone to help me.  There are so many teens today who feel hopeless and disheartened, and although they may not end up in a "loony bin," (as Callie so affectionately calls a residential treatment facility) a lot of them are on the right track to ending up in one.

When I first tried to read your novel, I didn't get to finish it because I had landed myself in the same place as described by Callie.  I really wish that I had finished the book before I went in there, because it would have made my "recovery" so much easier and so much quicker.  There are two types of people in this world.  The first group always asks for help; the other group refuses to seek help.  I belong to the latter group, just as Callie did.

After my own harrowing experience, similar to Callie's I was released and put into therapy.  I never got the chance to read the book until years later, and again, I wish I'd read it sooner.  Callie's struggle helped me see that, while we may be egocentric creatures and think that we're the only person in the world going through whatever conflict, we are not alone, and we never will be in our struggles.  There are other people out there just like us.

Many people complain that this novel does not accurately depict the "pain and suffering of a ‘true' cutter;" I believe otherwise.  There are people out there like myself who dissociate themselves from any type of pain they can and avoid it at all costs by simply ceasing to speak.  I liked the way Callie was presented as an almost two-dimensional character who avoided confrontation as much as possible.  It made her more real to me because I could understand where she was coming from and why she focused on seemingly inconsequential things, such as the amount of tissue boxes in a room, rather than why her life was so messed up.  Not everyone likes to write angsty lyrics and poetry reflecting upon their life.  People like myself do not want to think about things like that, so we occupy our minds elsewhere.

It may pay off immediately to take the easy way out and avoid your problems, but it is better to struggle for a little longer and triumph over your hardships.  Your novel has helped me open up more than I would have liked to before.  I do not want to shut the world out and cut myself off from everyone like Callie did, because I do want to get better as she presumably did.

As obvious as it may seem to some, one last lesson learned about myself was that, like Callie, I was and am not to blame for all the problems that I have had in my life.  It is essential that every person understands this in order to fully recover and move on; to just be happy.

I am glad that I had the chance to live again and to finish your novel.  Whenever I feel like shutting myself away, I remember this book and I remember that avoiding the world will not make everything better.  We all struggle in some way or another and in the end, if we put forth the effort, we can all succeed.

Tiffany Shock

12th Grade
South Anchorage High School, Anchorage, Alaska
Teacher:  John Lynn

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