: the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, amongst other books
Around 6 tonight, my husband came walking through the door with the mail in his hands. With a small smile on his face, he handed me a cream colored envelope addressed to A.
I didn't recognize the handwriting, so I flipped it over to see the return address.
Then I gasped. "He wrote her back!" I said to my husband. "It has actual handwriting on it. And it's postmarked from San Diego, not New York. I think he really wrote her. I can't believe it."
A was at ballet, so we had to wait two hours for her reaction. Is it bad that I wanted to open the letter right then and there? Maybe so. But I didn't open it. I waited.
As J started to leave to pick her up for ballet, I told him to be sure and take the letter. "Don't you want to get to see her open it?" he asked before leaving. Well, of course I did. I just didn't want her to have to wait one minute longer than absolutely necessary to see this. So I picked her up from ballet.
As soon as she got into the car, I turned on a light and handed her the letter. She turned it over and started to open it. "A," I said, stopping her. "Do you see who that's from?"
There was a slight pause as she looks at the handwriting. "Selznick?" she said, trying to place the name. "Oh! He wrote me back!" she said and literally started jumping up and down in her seat.
She opened the card and read his words to her, though I think ultimately they matter far less than the fact that an award winning author of books that our family loves took the time to write a note to a twelve year old girl. She will, I imagine, never forget this.
As we drove home, I told A that I've learned a lesson from this experience of hers. I explained that while I've read thousands of books in my life, I have never written a single letter to an author. "Really?" she said with amazement.
"I've always assumed they wouldn't care what I have to say," I explained to her. "When I saw that Brian Selznick wrote you back, I wondered whether I should write Markus Zusak a letter and tell him how much I love his book."
"And how much you cry every time you read it?" she asked with a smile.
One thing I have been learning this Lent is that I don't see myself very accurately. I am quick to assume that no one could possibly want to hear what I have to say. That might not be true. Markus Zusak might need to hear that his book is the best book I've ever read, that it makes me ache to write, that it captures the truth that the great pain and the great beauty of life often exist side by side. Maybe I'll get around to writing him because as she ate her dinner, a beaming twelve year old said to me, "God has great timing. I had a bad day at ballet. This letter came at just the right time."
I don't know what Brian Selznick's next book will be about. I do know we will buy it and read it. We're now lifelong fans.
Maybe you don't have a favorite book or favorite author, but who needs to hear the words you have to offer today? They could be a gift.