Level II

FIRST PLACE

New Jersey

Stevie Sanderson-Bowden, Pennington School, Pennington

Author:  Natalie Babbitt of Tuck Everlasting

Dear Natalie Babbitt,

Death. Five letters that mean so much to somebody experiencing grief. This word is a
monster that is always traveling in your shadows, following you wherever you go. It is in every thought, every accomplishment, and every moment. When my father passed away, all I could ever hope for was that nobody else in my life would ever die. The idea that somebody can, in an instant, be gone, is a burden that I carry around with me every day.

As I read your book, Tuck Everlasting, I found it incredibly intriguing that the Tuck family is immortal. Though this story may be fiction, it in some odd way gave me hope that death won’t be this hardship I have with me for the rest of my life. I immediately felt swept up in the story of the Tucks. I vigorously flipped the delicate book pages for hours on end. As the plot progressed I soon realized that the Tucks may be immortal, but that does not hide them from adversity. They still face problems that they cannot hide from, and new problems arise because of what I thought of as an advantage. Your book taught me that death is not this horrid monster hiding in the shadows, it is a part of life, and life is a gift.

My father passed away when I was going into 1st grade due to brain cancer. Hearing the words “your father passed away” is an unerasable memory, that is engraved in my brain. When you are that age something like death sweeps over your head. My tears were my mother’s, and grandparents’, and extended family’s tears, not my own. Now the tears that trickle down my cheek on nights alone in my room, days looking at old pictures, birthdays, and listening to stories, are my own. The idea that I lost someone forever, and I can do nothing to change that is petrifying.

Throughout your book I felt as though I grew a personal connection to the characters, through their experiences and emotions. I grew a strong connection to a certain character, Winnie Foster. Winnie, like me, is a strong young girl with opinions, curiosity, energy, and empathy. The emotions Winnie felt, for example when she learned about the Tucks being immortal, were almost identical to my emotions. She and I both felt, originally, like this immortality was an amazing and intriguing gift. As Winnie’s opinion on death was morphed into a completely new opinion, so did mine. She learned that no matter how long the Tucks live, they will always face problems. I too, learned that no matter how long I live, I will face adversity.

I would like you to know that your book truly helped me tap into what the meaning of life is. I learned that life is not something infinite, that you can do what you want with, and let it fly past you. Life is a gift that was presented to you with a purpose. It is not about how long you live, or about how much you do, it is about what you do with the time you are given. The world does not have to know your name for you to have made a difference in yourself or in others. Facing problems like death is not this thing you should be hiding from, it is inevitable. In the end I know that the adversity I have faced will teach me lessons, morals, and give me a strength that I would not have had.

After reading Tuck Everlasting, now looking at my father’s life I can see the difference he made in himself and others. Looking out into my future, I now see that it is okay that I may not live forever, but what matters is that I worked my hardest, and made a difference, big or small, in the time I am given. Your story taught me that life may not be infinite, but the difference you can make can be…everlasting.

Sincerely,
Stevie Sanderson-Bowden