My name is Toni Lynn Gibson, and I am one of the students that read your novel The Secret Life of Bees in Mr. Richardson’s Modern American Literature class. I had worked on the web log with the rest of my class and interacted in the discussions we had during class time. I wanted to get the chance to personally thank you for the time you took out of your schedule to help our opinion of the book grow to a much deeper meaning.
The first day we received the book, the title immediately gave me an interest in it; I had no idea how one could relate bees to a racist issue. I read the book with a curiosity that was so strong on some nights that I read ahead of our assigned reading. When I finished the last page, I closed the book and felt as if I had accomplished something important, and after careful thought I found out what the importance was. I had read the book from the first page to the last page gaining a new view on life; a new understanding of the way people can grow. I had read a different life; I had the chance to view something that I do not experience every single day and it makes me realize again that the world is so much more than my own town and own troubles.
The following days of our reading, we had class discussions about what we had read. I had a perfect opportunity to extend my mind on human beings; I was given an analytical and opinionated class. My class had the most debatable conversations about the words you have so carefully chosen to work into your novel. Almost everyone participated using their own beliefs as to why Lily did the things she did or why the Black Mary meant so much to August and the other sisters. Not only had I gotten a chance to voice my own personality and opinions, I got to know many others. My classmates have much more to them than I could have imagined by just a first glance. If it weren’t for your book, I would have never been able to see how strong these people can be. To this day, even after reading your book, my class still makes references to the disagreeing sides of our discussions, and we cannot help but laugh about how your book made us reach deep inside ourselves and see how we could relate your story to our own life.
Mr. Richardson had always been promising you were going to give us some feedback on our lightly-heated debates. Personally, I had been exited about hearing from you because I had never been given a chance to work so closely with an author. I felt I had been given an extremely lucky situation. My parents were proud of me and could only smile when I went home to rave about what I had read and discussed and told them how I couldn’t wait to hear what you had to say about the subject. I wanted to thank you for interacting with us and giving us your time. You helped our class look at Modern American Literature as a fun class and not just another English class. Along with the others students, I have gained a very high respect for Mr. Richardson for choosing this book for our curriculum.
Your novel has been helpful to me and others. Thank you for being so close with our class throughout our travels of growing up just a little and grasping a new view on life. It has been a wonderful honor.
I look forward to reading more of your books.
Toni Lynn Gibson