Traverse City Record-Eagle

Generation Why

February 6, 2012

Despite backgrounds, I feel a connection

Story affected me like no other book has done before

Dear Miss Collins,

I stayed up almost past 1 a.m. in my room all alone, on a school night, flipping as fast as I could through the pages of "The Hunger Games" because I couldn't stand falling asleep without knowing how Katniss and Peeta escape the trap the Capitol set up for them. As my reading light started to flicker and the climax of the story grew, I read faster and faster.

For me, "The Hunger Games" was the first book that was required reading that I finished weeks before my class. This strange and rare occurrence came as a surprise to me because no other book has affected me the way "The Hunger Games" has.

I am not going to tell you a sob story about how I grew up in a poverty-stricken community similar to the Seam and how I am forced to provide for my family because I would be lying to you. The truth is I live a common lifestyle. My mother and father are both alive and living together; my brother and I rarely fight; and I have a few special possessions. My life, it would seem, is polar opposite from Katniss, but I feel, in some way, completely connected to her.

As I read about Katniss I couldn't help but understand the circumstances she was going through because I have gone through the same things as well — not the same extremes, of course, but in a mental state.

I go along day to day, receiving homework, listening to lectures, and preparing myself for college and ultimately my future.

I'm 17, and honestly, I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. Being a teenager, all of this inevitable stress puts a large load on my shoulders, and most of the time I feel like I'm battling the stress all by myself. I felt as if I was in Katniss' position, scared and alone, but it's all a show; in reality she had Haymitch backing her up, and Peeta, who was going through the same thing as her.

Even thought Katniss and I are in different arenas, we share the same struggles.

Reading "The Hunger Games" made me realize that no matter how alone I may feel there is always someone that is supporting me and there will always be someone that is going through the same adventure as I am. I'm not alone. Thousands of teenagers are inevitably forced into the same situation. My parents, as well as other community members and teachers, are all there to pick me up if I fall.

The truth of the matter is I don't have anything that sets me apart from the crowd, I don't have any special talents, I'm not an amazing singer or athlete; I'm just a normal teenage girl. For me to say that this book flipped my life upside-down would be a lie.

But it did change my perspective of my future.

There may be days where I feel like I am in the arena, battling for the best grades to get into the best college possible, but I'm not alone. There are other students facing the same struggles as I am, and we will never really be alone because we are all fighting for the same goal.

May the odds ever be in our favor.

Elise Coates is a junior at Elk Rapids High School.

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