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Dear Lauren Oliver

Jennifer Chiu
White Station Middle
4th - 6th Grade

Dear Lauren Oliver,

Miracles happen every day, all round the world, to everyone. They just may not be what you expected. For the homeless, it might be a clean place to sleep. For the starving, it might mean the half-eaten burger found in the trash can. For the average man, it might mean winning the lottery. And for me, the average twelve year old schoolgirl, it's the gift of today, of being alive.

While it seems like a silly miracle, I am deeply grateful for it. I suppose that I should explain that my parents expect nothing but perfection from me. If I was unable to perform a task excellently, they'd sigh in disappointment. When I made less than an A on my schoolwork, they flaunted out my mistakes. I started to feel that if I didn't achieve perfection, my life would be in ruins. My parents meant to help, but I only ended up filled with worry and stress, balancing precariously on the edge. While they had my best interests at heart, their ways harmed more than helped. Fortunately, reading your book helped me realize that.

When I first started reading your novel, Before I Fall, I immediately became immersed in Sam's journey. The words seemed to hold deeper meanings, secrets I couldn't wait to unlock and decipher. However, I finished your novel somewhat perplexed and annoyed. How bizarre and stupid, I thought, was it that Sam had to relive her last day multiple times and yet couldn't cheat death – after all, wasn't that what the whole point of getting another chance? What was the significance of changing things if Sam was going to die anyway? Frustration coursed through me as I tried to grapple the hidden message buried deep in the writing.

It wasn't until I poured back over your familiar story only a few weeks later when it happened. As I was reading, a simple line jolted me to my senses. "But for some of us, there's only today. And the truth is, you never know," Sam chastised, embedding those words into my heart. You made me understand the importance of today, not tomorrow, not yesterday. The moment I was living in was what mattered. You taught me the importance of making every second count. You helped me recall the invigorating feeling of living in the present moment, something long lost.

In that moment, I thought back to another of Sam's thoughts: "How is it possible, I think, to change so much and not be able to change anything at all?" Except, I realized, she was wrong. I had changed, and I was able to change something: my life. Even if it was the tiniest shift, I could make a change. Perhaps Sam couldn't have been saved. Perhaps I couldn't undo my mistakes. But I could, however, change my life from that moment on. I could focus on breathing every second in, bathing in it, living it to the maximum and making it count. Your book reminded me how much each moment matters, because I'll never know when things might end, just like that. Lost. Gone.

As I was falling off the edge, you pulled me back up and shifted my life in a positive direction. You have taught me how to be happy. Your book reminded me that I only have one chance and should make the most of it. And most importantly of all, Before I Fall reminded me that time doesn't matter. Instead, I learned what truly mattered: making every moment worth it. Because when each moment is cherished and loved, they go on forever and that is enough to last a lifetime.