Dear Jim Butcher,
When I was in fifth grade my 20-year-old brother Danial gave me the first book of Codex Alera. At the time, the only books I liked were Harry Potter so I didn’t give much thought to it. I finished my fifth grade year without reading more than a few pages into the Furies of Calderon, and I was happy to go into middle school.
I don’t know what I was thinking.
Sixth grade was supposed to be the year of renewal. A year where you could recreate yourself with a new style, a new attitude, and new friends; I planned on staying the same because I believed I was funny, smart and nice and that was all I wanted to be. However, my friends had other ideas. Slowly, a change came over a few of my best friends. They started to ignore me and hang around with the ‘popular’ people. I became accustomed to feeling resentment whenever I tried to make conversation with them. To add to my growing depression, the teachers were loading homework on me at a rate that was new to my former fifth grade self.
I found books offered me an escape from the reality I lived in. I went through books in days that took other kids a month read. Then there was a time when I couldn’t find any books that appealed to me. I felt like someone licked the red off my candy. I still had the book my brother gave me sitting on my bookshelf surrounded by others that I had read over and over again. Since there weren’t many other options I decided to give it a try.
The first chapter made me fall in love. The main character, Tavi, sold me to the series. He was shunned by almost everyone because he was different, odd, and abnormal. Tavi tried to make up for it in brains, cleverness and kindness. Even so, people still looked down on him just because he couldn’t furycraft. But that didn’t stop him from saving the whole of Calderon Valley from a Marat attack without the use of supernatural powers.
The Furies of Calderon gave me hope. Yes, it was fiction, but every story has a grain of truth in it. If Tavi could survive without furycraft in a world where it was essential to furycraft then I could survive the dramatic, petty problems of middle school. I began to see the world in a new light–one bright enough to chase away the dark problems lurking in the corners. I forgot about my old friends, they weren’t worth my sorrow, and I looked to my new comrades with happiness pure of any hate or regret, just like Tavi did for the Marat everyone believed to be only savages.
I took on my challenges set by the teachers and succeeded in completing them though they weren’t much compared to how Tavi saved a civilization. He faced his challenges with a courage that I can only ever wish to have, and defeated his enemies with raw cunning I hope to one day imitate. He showed me that not everyone is good, but everyone has good in them; so when my old friends became tired of the crowd they followed and came back to me expecting to be forgiven entirely, I was nice and cordial towards them, but I never gave them the warmth they once received.
The books helped build a strong bond between my brother and me. We would talk about what fury we would have which character we like best, and the epic battles that took place. Danial and I would have inside jokes about the books only we knew and that made me feel included, loved. He cheered me up by talking nerd with me, and I can’t thank him enough for that.
I would have eventually worked out my problems on my own, but Tavi helped guide me through them with a mind open to anyone and anything. His simple kindness taught me to never judge someone before getting to know them, his cleverness taught me to always keep my mind sharp and his courage revealed to me the levels human beings are capable of climbing to when they try. So, thank you, Jim Butcher. You helped me through middle school; better start on the next series to get me through high school.
Adrienne Sypeck