one steadying force—Rachel Maddow. She watches her daily, and after writing to
Rachel for a school project—and actually getting a response—Brynn starts
drafting emails to Rachel but never sending them. It’s an outlet; Brynn tells
Rachel about breaking up with Sarah, her first serious girlfriend, about her
beloved brother Nick’s death, her passive mother and even worse stepfather,
about how she’s stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping
But then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. She learns that one student
representative will be allowed to have a voice among teachers and
administrators in the selection of a new school superintendent. Sarah, along
with Brynn’s arch-nemesis John, believe only honors students worthy of the
selection committee seat. Brynn knows they are more interested in power and
perks. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position
the knives are out and her brother’s memory and her new crush Michaela are
shamed. Brynn asks herself: What would Rachel Maddow do?
Dear Rachel Maddow,
I am writing to you because of a school assignment. It’s a totally lame reason to be writing, but I don’t think you’ll actually read it anyway. This kind of thing is so sixth grade. I am a junior in high school and I’ve been forced to write to a “celebrity hero” by the Applied Language Arts teacher. (Hey Mr. Grimm! How’s it hanging, buddy?) I wasn’t going to do it, because my ex-girlfriend worships you and, hello, school assignment. But I turned on your show and Mom totally freaked out to see me watching you. Apparently your liberal and leftist views don’t sit well with her. Mom spat out the words like she was talking about my dad, so I knew she meant it. That made you my celebrity hero.
You were talking about some guys running for congress. But then you said one of them was “freaking amazing.” I don’t think news people are supposed to say things like that. And isn’t that biased? News people aren’t supposed to be biased. I know this because Mr. Grimm made us watch this video about newswriting. Though no one else knows this about me, Rachel Maddow, I have a near photographic memory for stuff people say. Their words just stick in my brain. So I remember what a reporter is supposed to do.
Anyway, thanks for pissing off my Mom.
Dear Rachel Maddow,
I learned an important lesson about rough drafts. If you really want to send someone a letter, you should just send it. Do not turn it in to your English teacher first. But Mr. Grimm (said English teacher) is the only person I know who doesn’t think I’m hopeless, so I am trying this again for his sake. Though I’m sending it to you too, to avoid further editing.
My name is Brynn Harper and I am sixteen years old. I live with my mother and stepfather in Westing, Pennsylvania. I have a brother, too. Or, I had one, anyway.
I first watched your show a couple of times in high school because my best friend (well, okay, my girlfriend) loved you, so she kind of dragged me along with her. She’s not my girlfriend anymore. And she said she didn’t have time to watch television anymore either, even for you. So she dumped us both. That gives us something in common.
I had a list of questions that I was supposed to ask you, but I got most of the answers online already. Mr. Grimm suggested I think of new ones. So here you go:
- When you look at the papers on your desk and circle something, are you really reading from them? Don’t you read from a teleprompter? When you go to commercial, you shuffle those papers, too. Seriously, is there anything even written on them?
- How much does a person have to know to be considered a “wonk?”
- At least one person laughs in the background while you are talking. Is this on purpose? Who is that?
- Why don’t you run for political office?
- Is there ever a staff meeting when you think to yourself, “Huh, there really isn’t a lot going on in the news today.”
- How many pairs of shoes do you actually own?
I have lived my entire “adult” life in a
college dormitory working in both Residence Life and college chaplaincy. I like the term “dormitory” better
than “residence hall.” I went
to school for a long time so that now I get to swoop around in a fancy robe and
silly hat (like at Hogwarts). I have an
MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts
(a place like Hogwarts). I play both the
viola and tennis with more heart than skill.
I love my current home in Boston but will always be a Pennsylvanian at
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