Linnea Lentfer's Letter: Alaska Winner

Below is Linnea Lentfer's beautiful letter for The Center for the Book's (Library of Congress) national contest for students, Letters About Literature. It describes how she was transformed by Eva of the Farm, my middle grade novel. Linnea's letter won first place for Alaska for Level One. Linnea writes so vividly. I'm sure we'll all be reading her novels one day.

Dear Dia Calhoun,

In my first 10 years of life I had always considered a loss, a loss.I could find nothing good out of it. A fear was something I would avoid, not face.

I come from a family of hunters. Each year we go to a small cabin on an island and spend the days walking slowly through the beauty of the Southeast Alaskan old growth forest. From this we not only take in beauty but also we take the lives of what I believe to be the most graceful and peaceful of animals on Earth. The Sitka black-tailed deer.

Every time I heard the rifle go off and watched the deer fall it always seemed that the spiraling piece of lead had shattered my heart not the deer’s. As we knelt alongside the still-warm animal my tears left wet marks on the dark, velvety fur.

Through all the years of hunting, I’ve struggled to make peace in my mind between the beauty of the hunt and taking the deer’s life. Reading your book Eva of the Farm was a big step.

As I read, I found Eva’s love for her farm and her friend like my love for the woods and the deer. Her sense of loss for her friend and possibly her home was like mine. I was able to relate so well with Eva in the beginning that as she made peace with her troubles so did I.

Now, as I walk up to a deer the tears falling are not of sorrow, they are of gratitude, to be able to live where I do and experience the bittersweet beauty of hunting.

Linnea Rain Lentfer, grade 5

Thank you so much, Linnea, for writing this beautiful letter to me. It touched my heart. 
Dia CalhounComment