BATON ROUGE — Magnolia Charlet, of Northwestern Middle School, was the second place winner in Level II, grades 7-8 in the 2019 Louisiana winners of the annual Letters About Literature contest.

The Louisiana Center for the Book in the State Library of Louisiana announced the 2019 winners recently and posted the winning entries online at

This year, 242 fourth through 12th grade Louisiana students wrote personal letters to authors, living or dead, to explain how their work changed the students’ way of thinking about the world or themselves. 

Magnolia will receive $75 for the second place slot and will be recognized at the Louisiana Book Festival on Nov. 2, in Baton Rouge.

Her letter follows:

Dear John Green,

Your book "Paper Towns" inspired me to accept things as they are and not decide things or form opinions based off of assumptions alone. Throughout the whole book, I just expected for there to be a picture-perfect cute little reuniting scene then suddenly Margo’s all fine and "don’t worry guys she just wanted to be a bit rebellious but now it’s okay" and she comes back home. But then it wasn’t. I wanted it to be a nice little bow on top, with a nice cliché mystery solving of where she was hiding, like an intense game of hide-and-seek and then we go get her, followed by the Margo we thought we knew just agreeing to go and there being a definitive and happy ending.

But this is realistic fiction, not fantasy.

The book instead ends with them parting ways, left ambiguous. And that honestly made me pretty mad for a while. But it didn’t last long, because I understood that we don’t even know that much about Margo. I mean of course there’s things we sort of know, but Q just honestly likes the idea of her rather than her. Q is a huge fan of the Margo he created in his head out of bits and pieces of information about her, but we genuinely don’t know a ton about Margo. I associate with this as I’ve met people I’ve befriended before knowing much about them, occasionally only related to proximity alone or from what I'd heard of them. These friends never last long, as the hype is typically exaggerated, and I discover we have very few things if anything in common. It’s the people who I least expect to befriend that I make the best friends with. The people who have become my good friends are an odd selection of people who make me laugh, or who are always there for comfort, or they’re really nice, or a mixture of all three. I’ve also assumed many things about people without knowing the truth, as Q did. I simply make assumptions based off of no logic but simply what I think possibly may be the case, possibly incredibly incorrect.

When I had come to the end of the book, I wished I could change the end, and my mind filled with infinite futures for a better ending in my opinion, where Margo comes home and is safe and sound and everyone is happy. But then I came to accept that this is like how life is, with future unknown and hardly any definitive conclusions being able to be made. So thank you for teaching me both of these things, and thank you for writing this book.


Magnolia Charlet