Rattlesnakes in the Library: Book Review-I Will Always Write Back

I Will Always Book Cover

Book Reviewed: I Will Always Write Back

By Caitlin Alfirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch

Review By Richardson MS Student, Katie C.

Have you ever thought you would make someone’s dreams come true? Not small ones, like winning first place in a science fair, but actually helping that person attend college, a dream that that someone never imagined doing? It happened to two best friends who didn’t ever see each other for six years. But through hard work and determination, their goal was reached. It was to make each other happy and to meet each other with their dreams reached. Truly, they both changed both of their lives forever.

It all started out with one letter. One letter that a boy in Zimbabwe, Africa was lucky to receive. One letter that a girl in America sent, unknowing that this would be much more than a classroom assignment. Unknowing, that she would help one poor boy and his family who lived in a place where no one cared. Unknowing, that she would save many lives. That she would build a tight friendship, that she would end up calling him her brother. But she did not know all of this. She imagined he lived like her, a boy living in a two story house with a three car garage and a closet full of clothes.

In truth, he lived in a shack, didn’t have a car, and only one pair of clothes. So she was surprised and rather confused when she received a letter from him which told her the Nike shirt that she gave him or his birthday “greatly increased my wardrobe”. Caitlin felt she must know more of this boy and especially what he looked like. So she sent him a letter with a few photos of herself telling him that she wanted some pictures of him too. Little did she know that he only had one picture of himself, and that he was very embarrassed to show that he was poor. Later on when she gave him a dollar for a keepsake, she asked for his Zimbabwean dollar and more photos of him. Frantic, Martin gave her a cheetah print bracelet to keep her happy until he could figure out a way to take more photos of him and for the dollar?

It was worth twenty-five Zimbabwean dollars. Instead of a keepsake, he ended up using it to keep his family alive. Questions piled on top of Martin every time Caitlin sent him a letter: How am I going to take pictures? How am I going to explain that I can’t because I barely even have money to write her a letter? How am I going to tell her that I got expelled from school due to family finances? How am I supposed to explain that I’m not only poor, I’m nearly homeless? Finally, how will you think of me then?

When Caitlin wrote to Martin three times and he hadn’t answered, she got nervous. Martin felt her anxiety, because the next time he sent her a letter, he wrote on a ice cream wrapper because he had no money for paper. His words finally let Caitlin truly know his life: that he was pouring tea and carrying luggage to feed his family, and that he couldn’t go to school because he couldn’t pay his fees. Caitlin was heartbroken that someone couldn’t go to school even if they so desired. Caitlin immediately took action by sending packages of clothes, shoes, toothbrushes, and much more. Learning about Martin made Caitlin feel much more ashamed of the way she treated poor people at her school.

Want to know what happens?  Read this book to find out more about the strong bond that brought them together.  This is a nonfiction story.  That means it is true.

Editor’s Note:  Have you recently read a book that you would like to recommend to others? Please write a book review and email it to Mrs. Bezich at bezich.leslie@tusd.org.  Be sure to include your name and don’t give away the ending.  We don’t want any spoilers.  Happy Reading!  

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