December 13, 2018

Dear Ms. Deborah Ellis,

If you took one good look at me, you would see a petite, overlooked twelve-year old girl struggling to find her own path. Three months ago, I found myself stumbling upon a small, dark blue book with a girl looking from behind a fence and the bright words Moon at Nine illuminated on the front. While most people would probably have second thoughts about choosing a book that shows a girl with fear dancing in her eyes, I decided to look into her world and read this book. Something sparked in my eyes and I was intrigued to begin reading. Perhaps it is because I saw a little bit of myself in the main character, Farrin. Or perhaps she had a quality I wish I had: courage. Little did I know, this book would change the view I have of myself and my place in this world. As soon as I began reading about Farrin, a girl from Iran, I felt a connection to her actions of trying to fit in.

 Most people have told me to just be myself and that I shouldn't care about what other people think. I struggled to grasp this concept until I read your book. In Moon at Nine, the lesson was truly wired into my mind when I saw another character trying to come to grips with the same problem I struggled with at a young age. When Farrin attempted to avoid answering too many questions and tried to conceal her intelligence to prevent drawing attention to herself, I found myself relating to the idea of weaving myself in with the crowd.  I too have tried to avoid grabbing the attention of others.

Throughout elementary school and parts of middle school, I attempted to fit in and find where I belonged within my grade. When I was in fourth grade, I had a brief friendship with a girl in my class. I would always find myself left in the dust when playing with this "friend"  each time she was with others. When I felt like I wasn't fully included, I started trying to fit into her mold, behaving the way she did. I would often laugh at the things she would point out, not caring if it was kind or rude. Throughout my reading of this book, I discovered that I should not have tried to imitate her negative behavior behind people's backs.

I will never forget when I found out that Farrin and Sadira, another Iranian girl, were trying to hide their love for each other by acting like everyone else, in fear of being executed, I found myself connected to their reactions based on fear of being laughed at and humiliated. In early middle school, I found myself mocked for my asthma, just because I had a weird cough. Most people would give me a strange look and some would laugh at me because I looked bizarre.  I would often find it difficult to stand up for myself because I felt afraid. Most of the time, I would try to hide it by breathing normally, struggling to hold back my cough. In the past, I thought that it was acceptable to try to hide my cough, but after I read your book, I found out that you don't always have to be like everyone else.

When Farrin and Sadira admitted their love for each other, I felt as if a thousand pounds had hit me. I realized that no matter how much you try to change someone,  human personalities and desires can't be altered, and that it is important to be yourself. After reading that, I became more self aware, and did not want to hide who I truly was in order to fit in. Now when people make fun of my asthma, I think of your book and simply just ignore them because having asthma is simply a part of who I am as a person.

Later in the book, when Farrin refused to sign a confession admitting that she is lesbian, I felt that she was brave for standing up for herself under very extreme circumstances in which she could have been killed. Now, I also try to stand up for myself when people make fun of my asthma or my appearance.  

This book has changed me from a small, ignored person to a strong, courageous person. Thank you for clearing the blindness out of my eyes, and providing me with a story I will always carry in my heart. Thank you for giving me the courage to stand up for what I think is right.



Asha Blewett 

Page last modified: April 3, 2019