Letters About Literature National Winners 2018
National Honor Winner, Level 2: Baxter Lowrimore
Dear Rick Riordan,
I remember the first book of yours that I ever read, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. I was 7 years old at the time. I’m fourteen now, and I’m still reading your books. Why? Perhaps it’s because of the sense of heroism your books bring out in me. Perhaps it’s because I still get swept up in the worlds you create. And perhaps it’s because your books take me back to a simpler time. A time before tests and anxiety, a time before dating and drama, a time before I stopped being a kid.
When I read that first book, I was much younger than the main characters. However, as the years went on, I aged with them. When I started reading, I couldn’t relate to anything Percy, Annabeth, and the others went through; I only saw the physical problems. I only saw them getting attacked by monsters and fighting gods. But when I read them now, I see other, deeper issues. Nico DiAngelo was the character I used to see myself most in. When we first meet him, he’s just a lost little kid, but then he turns darker. He never feels like he belongs anywhere, and the reason for that is why I related to him so much. He refused to accept who he really was and who he really loved. I’ll never forget page 292 of The House of Hades. I’ll never forget when Nico finally admits to Jason that he’s gay, and that he’s in love with Percy. I’ll never forget the moment, with help from Nico, when I discovered that I, too, liked boys.
Nico’s struggle with accepting himself really resonated with me, and still does to this day. The first time I read it, I was probably twelve, and going through a struggle of my own. Like Nico, I was trying to navigate my own sexual orientation, and I was having trouble coming to grips with it. But when I saw I wasn’t alone in this, and that it was okay to feel how I felt, I really started to both accept myself and be proud of who I was. You never know how helpful it is to see someone going through the same things you are, even if it’s in a book.
Will Solace, the charismatic son of Apollo, is who I have started trying to embody. He is always so sure of himself, as I try to be now, after so many years of not being so. I remember reading about Nico and Will’s relationship, and being so excited to finally have a positive gay couple to look up to. I would always try to emulate them in my own relationships, which I think helped me in the long run, as I had something healthy to compare to.
Not only did your books help me discover who I really was, but they also helped me to discover my second home. Many of your stories take place at Camp Half-Blood. As you know, Book People, in Austin, created a Camp Half-Blood of their own, almost twelve years ago. It’s a summer camp, like yours. I’ve been going for six years now, and have absolutely loved every second of it. It has introduced me to some of my all-time favorite people, and for that I’m forever grateful. I’ve had the time of my life, and have made some treasured memories and remarkable friends. But of course, without your books, none of that could’ve happened.
Uncle Rick, what I really want to say is thank you. Thank you for providing me with an escape, to a world I’ve been lost in and obsessed with for more than half my life. Thank you for providing me with the means to learn how to accept myself, and rejoice in who I am. Thank you for providing me with friends and memories that will stay with me for years to come. And finally, thank you for never giving up, never stopping writing. You never know how much of an impact you have on the lives of people that you’ve never even met.