by Erica Irwin


Dr. Chmiel,

I just got done reading your book, and I wish now that I had written down my thoughts while reading because now I feel both emptied of and bursting with things to say. Unfortunately, I just finished turning in a lot of papers and taking notes while reading just does not seem appealing right now.

Wow, you guys wrote a lot. She must have been so disciplined to have journaled so much. I am envious. Everyone doesn’t need a book about them, but it would have been such a crime had you not written this. I am so glad that I, and all the other people who have and will read it, have been allowed a peek, a glimpse into the life of someone so amazing. I cannot imagine what it was like for you to write this. Besides it being so painful to remember her, writing it revealed so much about you, too! It was so brave of you to share so much about your own life as well as hers.

Perhaps I should have waited longer to write this because I am still in such awe! I just don’t know what to say. I am impressed by her life, and consequently so confused and saddened/crushed by her death. I don’t know if it’s weird that I’m telling you this because I’m sure you’re feeling it exponentially. Basically, I wanted to write to let you know what an impact your book had on me. Of course, it is cliché, but it is a life-changing book. I feel I can safely say that because (1) I couldn’t put the book down and (2) I cried through much of the second half and (3) I am convinced that I will not soon forget it. Those are my criteria for “life-changing book status.”

Thank you for sharing your life with us.


Erica Irwin

Erica is a senior in American Studies at Saint Louis University. She studied in Mark Chmiel’s Social Justice course in the fall of 2004.

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