Thank you. The foremost thought in my mind every time I think of you is gratitude. You taught me to cherish empathy and understanding and friendship and risks. You taught me that love could be good and bad, easy and difficult. You taught me about falling and getting up.
When I was fourteen, my best friend handed me Just Listen, told me you were her favorite author and that I had to read it. That was Friday. She had her book back by Sunday and I was peppering my mother to take me to the book store. I never looked back. I still remember going to buy a copy of Along for the Ride and discovering that I had completely missed Lock and Key coming out. The excitement of having two books to read happily assuaged the shame of having missed it in the first place. Lottery Smottery. I had twice as much Dessen to read.
I reread The Truth About Forever almost every year until I graduated college. After graduation it was the book I sent to my college roommate when she told me she needed new reading material.
You have been an integral part of my life. Your books made it feel possible that I wasn't alone. Which, of course, is what I believe we're all afraid we will be when we're fourteen. And you helped me be brave.
Macy unburied her heart, Ruby made herself a family, Mclean stopped hiding, Remy actually gave someone her trust, Annabelle listened to herself and learned to speak up, and Caitlin learned to find her own way. If they could all do all of that, I could certainly face the privileges of my own simple, and sometimes similar, struggles.
So thank you. For what you've given me, and for what I now get to share with others. Though I will admit, every time I send someone home with a copy of a Dessen they haven't read yet, I get a little jealous. As you well know, that first glimmer of love always has a little extra magic.