October 30, 2019

Dear Laurie Halse Anderson,

Usually, I forget a book within the same week that I read it, but this one was different. Your book Chains completely changed my view of what an eleven year old girl is like, proving to me that we are all unique, and at some point we all face challenges. It taught me that standing up and fighting is not wrong if you have the right cause.

Last year I felt chained to my emotions and to being perfect for my teachers and friends, just like Isabel felt chained to her emotions and to being perfect for Madam Lockton. Exactly like her, I knew the trap I was in was awful, but I just didn't Know how to escape.

Walking alongside Isabel and her hurricane of trials and emotions let me know I was not alone in my own mental hurricane. Before reading Chains I looked at myself as an eleven year old girl who was messed up and not good enough. In school every time I messed up or made just one mistake, I thought my life was over, I imagined the world was ending. Teachers and friends tried to help me, but I could not accept help from people who did not understand. Then I remembered Isabel, how she had struggled with perfection and how she struggled but then overcame her trials and mistakes. Then, Isabel was right there helping me stay strong, a true friend that only a wonderful book could bring to life.

After walking with Isabel and learning her story, I took another look at myself and saw a gi rl who was strong and worth fighting for! When difficulties arose I stood up and spoke with a firm gentleness of what I knew was right. Isabel taught me not to shrink back in the face of hardship, but to fight through it with dignity until the day of relief arrived.

Then I dipped my toe into self-assurance, kindness, and bravery, a swirling emotion called courage. I took a step back and plunged in. I took time and thought about everything. I thought about the love that my family, friends, and teachers poured on me. Then with all my true genuine love and reassurance that I had stored up inside of me, I stood up and was strong. That is when it hit me that I was here for a purpose, and that life was worth enjoying. As summer drew to a close I realized that I had overcome my fear and only with the help and reassurance of Isabel along the way. I will forever be grateful for the encouragement Isabel gave me. So thank you for everything, for who I am today.


Adelaide Cowden

Page last modified: March 11, 2020