« Back to National Winners

Letters About Literature National Winners 2010

National Winner, Level 2: Marisa Meier, AZ

Dear John Bibee,

Mirrors are strange and powerful. In them, you can notice when something is not quite right, or when you’re at your best. Some mirrors are not made of glass or hanging on walls. These mirrors cannot be looked in. Rather, they appear as a movie, book, or some other thing that somehow mirrors your life. At some point, everyone has an experience with a mirror. This can either help or hurt them, but it will always change their life. Your book, The Magic Bicycle, provided a strange, yet accurate mirror of my brother and I, which showed me how beneficial it is to concentrate on the good, instead of the bad. For a time, even I, a person who is usually cheerful, thought that I would never be able to lead a normal life. Then again, I told myself, miracles can happen. I didn’t have the slightest clue that my little miracle would come in the form of ink on paper, your book in my hand. Admittedly, I’m glad it did.

My brother is different. He is also special, in more ways than one. Being affected with a genetic disorder called Fragile X, my little brother Nathanael is slower than most at reading, writing, and even speaking. Turning nine this February, he is progressing slowly, with little sentences such as “more, please”, or “computer”. Also, his Fragile X requires more attention on our part, to watch, protect, and take care of him. Many times, this has proven much more difficult than it sounds.

Having a sibling with special needs, I found myself strangely mirrored by the protagonist, John. Towards the beginning of the story, when John finds himself stuck with his strange new bike, he was not exactly thrilled. Although I’m ashamed to admit it, I wasn’t thrilled my brother was going to be different either. When John realizes that he’s stuck with his bike, The Spirit Flyer, he begrudgingly takes it out for a spin. It was when his bike first lifts off the ground that he comes to the same realization I had about my brother; he’s not just different, he’s unique, exceptional, and irreplaceable, and my life will never be the same.

Again mirrored by the fictional character John, he and I both experienced a wild range of emotions. John first feels humiliation, when everyone stared at the boy with the crazy bike. This feeling was balanced out by the immense pride he felt when his Spirit Flyer first started flying for him. I, too, have faced humiliation and embarrassment. An example of this would be the many times when we were in a crowded store, and Nate lay kicking and crying on the floor. An abundance of love and pride have managed to burrow their way into my stubborn heart since then; the first time being a couple of months ago, when Nate came to me, and in his own special dialect, he said, “I love my Rissa, I love you sweet heart!” Or another time when I was dressed up to go to a concert, he looked at me and said, “Pretty, Rissa pretty!” These instances made all the worries and hardships completely worthwhile.

Somehow, I have a feeling that, John would agree. I mean, how often do you see a flying bicycle? Just as rare are those diagnosed with the genetic disorder Fragile X. Although first considered “handicaps”, they have brought both of us abounding joy. A single mirror was all that was necessary to see my beautiful little brother in a new light.

Marisa Meier