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Dear Orson Scott Card

Elizabeth Dang
Germantown High School
9th - 12th Grade

Dear Orson Scott Card,

I remember the first time a book made me cry. I remember not realizing that tears were welling up in my eyes until they had fallen over my lashes and onto the yellowed pages of Speaker for the Dead. I remember the confusion and assessment that followed: Why? How had some squiggles of ink arranged in a particular order caused me to feel sadness…and so strongly?

You, Mr. Card, arranged those ‘squiggles’ so effectively that I, over the course of the few weeks it took to absorb your book, fell in love with them. Even armed with the knowledge that I was all fiction, I could not protect myself; I fell in love with the refined wiring, the awesome world you created, and the authentic characters- Novinha, Libo, the piggies- specifically their intricate personal lives and cultures. Thus, because I loved them so, I was also forced to mourn their deaths. When I lost my friend, Libo, to the pigges’ savage rituals, I was shocked by the vividness of the imagery. Your writing, of that scene, was not beautiful (not even close)- it was ugly in the most fascinating, sophisticated manner. I wanted to put down the book at that point, bury it and forget what I had ‘seen,’ but I was too outraged by (what seemed like) an act of senseless violence. However, it was not until the true, sacred nature of the piggies’ rituals was revealed, that I began to genuinely appreciate the moral significance of your story. You took the ol’ adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ and elaborated it into a three hundred eighty two-page novel. Not only did you force me to open my mind to the endless possibilities- about myself, about other human being, about alien creatures not yet discovered- you did so I the most sensational way.

Although it is hard to break the habit of forming judgments about people, because of Speaker for the Dead, I am no longer fixed on the idea that people are inherently good or bad; we are just living, feeling organisms that think differently from each other. It’s been years now since I have read your book, but the message resonates with me especially now, in a time when America is divided between Trump versus Hillary, police versus the public, people versus the government. I have my own personal opinions on these issues, like any other person would, but I am not intolerant toward others with different opinions. Rather than avoiding their ideas I try to ask questions, walk around in their shoes for a spell, and understand them; even if I cannot find logic behind their viewpoint that appeals to me, I try to accept their opinions as valid. After all, every single person lives a different life. Among all the conflict occurring in America, you have given me the will to find and express my own voice, as well as be kind towards others regardless of how much I know about or agree with them. I understand that as much as I would like to think that I know someone, I will never know his or her while story. As Ender said in Ender’s Game, “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe and not love them the way they love themselves.” Ender enlightened statement is the motto I aspire to follow.

You, Mr. Card, created a universe that sprouted from your own mind, yet, are uniquely mine. It’s our story, to which we both contribute. You gave me the words and descriptions- the blueprints- just detailed enough that it was your vision, but allowing me the space to build the story in my mind, how I envisioned it. I would sincerely like to thank you for sharing your ideas with the world though this story. I would like to thank you for the impact this has made on my life.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Dang.