Open Letter to The Hunger Games

I heart you.

Age when I read a book that changed my life: 11

Age my son is now when he can’t stop reading the Hunger Games trilogy: 11

Ways good books can make your life better: 32,001

Dear Hunger Games trilogy and Ms. Suzanne Collins,

Thank you for dreaming up a book for kids about a reality show where people kill each other. While death and post-apocalyptic themes are not the first thing I would seek out for an 11-year-old, I am thankful for the extent to which my son has been submerged in your world.

I read the Hunger Games trilogy in 5.2 days this past December, and I loved all three books. I had also read the Gregor the Overlander series to my kids a few years ago… so good.

Quite frankly, I was getting concerned about my kids, who love to read. When I read Harry Potter #6 out loud to them, there were tears.

Mine.

“Kids? Kids? (sob sniff sob) Did you miss the part about Dumbledore? The tumbling over, and the splat, and the never coming back, and the tomb part? Kids?”

“Yeah, Mom, it’s sad.”

“But the death part? (wiping eyes, voice scratchy from poignancy)”

“Yeah. Sad.”

Both of my kids read books, and there have been several they’ve really, really liked. But this. This, Ms. Collins. Remember The Once and Future King?

Oh. Maybe you don’t. I got The Once and Future King the summer when I was 11, a few weeks before it all hit the fan. I mean, the death of my rabbit, my cat and my grandmother, all within a week? Everything was changing.

And I was ugly. Please don’t remind me about my cloud of hair. Or those painful braces. The one thing I had going for me was a Bain du Soleil tan from a summer spent in the sun, and even that was cursed, since my eyelids, tanned and weathered like an ’80s goddess, now sit atop my eyeballs in the manner of an 80-year-old.

But I had King Arthur. And England, and towers and knights and fate and good and evil. And I didn’t even think ol’ Lancelot was all that great. Guinevere made some bad choices. I can’t even hear “Fortress Around Your Heart” by Sting without being transported back to my bed, with the curtains blowing in with the breeze and the long summer days giving me extra reading time. As hungry as I was, King Arthur was way better than tuna casserole with potato chips on top.

And now Hunger Games. When I see tears on the edges of my son’s eyelashes as he reads about [bad thing expunged here], I know he is feeling the power of a great book.

Thank you, thank you, Ms. Collins, for all of your compelling writing about good and evil and Peeta (Arthur) and Gale (Lancelot) and scrappy female characters both boys and girls can relate to.

Yours in Panem,

Anne

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