Dear Ellen Hopkins,

Your book, Perfect, has made me realize that the world isn’t as innocent as it seems. The tragic romances, suicides, and rape scenes, that are so well described, make you cringe, just by realizing the gruesomeness. I could hardly believe that all this circulates around just five teenagers. I guess that’s why “believe” is spelled with “lie” instead of “truth”. Then I thought about what I hear on the news every day.       

 As a result, I’ve started to read more about current news just to see how often the near lethal events that you described actually happen. So after checking the nightly news online, I have begun to see a pattern. Devastating occasions happen way too often, or at least more often than they should. When I walk home after school, I’m even more cautious about when I cross the street and when I see any shady people walking around. I’ve noticed that I look over my shoulder even more than I used to. (I’ve truly always been a little paranoid.)

Your book has also made me more and less confident about a few things. During  the few weeks that I read your book, I have become less confident about my mental stability. Ever since I was in a mental health program for a month last summer, I have been questioning my state of mental health. Even though I’ve had depression for a long time, it hit a peak last summer. However, the mental health program wasn’t exactly like Aspen Springs. It was more like a rehabilitation center for patients to go after being in a hospital for the mentally ill. One of the things that I have become more confident about is knowing who I am. Today I am glad to actually know who I am even though I don’t always appreciate it.       

By reading your book, I have realized that life is too short to waste on middle school drama. I’d rather explore the world. I want to see all the different breeds of lions before some dentist hunts them out of existence. I want to visit the Galapagos Islands even though it’s not open to the public, and become the graphic artist that I have wanted to become over the past two years.

To me life is no longer about who wore it best or who just died on American Horror Story. It’s about living to life’s greatest extent. “YOLO” is what my generation says for all the wrong reasons. But since reading your book I don’t want to be like the rest of my generation. I want to live my life one step at a time, looking to the future and looking at the past so that I never make the same mistakes I used to make. I want to make completely new mistakes; ones that are unique to my situation, just like some of the mistakes made by the characters in your story. My dad always tells me that it’s better to make a big mistake, have everyone notice, and learn a lot than to make a small mistake that no one will notice and learn absolutely nothing.      

After reading your book I do have a few questions, including what comes next in all of their lives? Were all the characters in your story fictional personas you created or were they real people that you knew? What is your connection to the characters in your book? Right now I am reading your book Impulse. Hopefully reading it will answer some of my questions. Thanks to you I now know the failed innocence of the world, and most would probably say that you ruined their childhood, but it left me a little richer. Your book has changed me, for better or for worse. And to me your book was indeed       

. . . a perfect paper airplane.

Thank you for inspiring a new generation of writers.




Ainsley Murnahan

Page last modified: April 13, 2016