I don’t remember how many time I read Number The Stars when I was nine, but it was a lot. Other books I read multiple times: the biographies of Sojourner Truth, Phyllis Wheatley, and Harriet Tubman; I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl; Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry; and One Eye Laughing, The Other Eye Weeping: The Diary of Julie Weiss. You get my point. I loved any book that was about a girl who was a slave or a victim of the Holocaust. I was fascinated with their stories because I didn’t understand why people were treated that way—how people could survive being treated that way. I read these girls’ stories, and I cried because I wanted to be there to help them. I wanted to be the one who hid a Jewish girl under the floorboards of my bedroom. I wanted my house to be a station in the Underground Railroad. I wanted to do what was right; I wanted to be brave.
But it’s hard to be brave when you’re skinny and lanky with big bangs and even bigger glasses. It’s hard to be brave when you’re homeschooled, and you feel inferior to all other kids ‘cause they go to public school and have recess and snow days, and you don’t. It’s hard to be brave when all the girls at the ice rink laugh at you because you ate a peach off the ground (Even though you washed it off in the drinking fountain first. Duh.) And it’s hard to be brave when you’re growing mosquitoes in your house for a science fair project. In high school. My hypothetical conversation with a boy when I was fourteen- Oh yea, sure I’d love for you to come over, just don’t open the door to our guest bedroom or else THOUSANDS OF MOSQUITOE LARVAE MAY FALL ON THE FLOOR AND DIE.
I’m trying to become braver as I get older.
Example 1: Writing on this blog.
Example 2: I don’t follow recipes when I cook.
Example 3: I fell in love. Completely.
I have never survived a concentration camp or worked in a cotton field, and I never will. But I’ve had my heart broken; I’ve lost friends and relatives; I’ve picked up the pieces of myself and tried to assemble some sort of human that lives and breathes and loves well. I think we’re all survivors of something. I think it’s important to remember that when dealing with others. People’s physical bodies may be strong enough to survive wars and disease, but they are still fragile. That being said, I know we’re all stronger than we think we are—both men and women; we are brave in our own ways.