The Last Letter
There's more than one way to be brave...
Write one last letter. That’s what fifteen-year-old Amelia’s psychologist says when she tells him about her time capsule—a My Little Pony lunchbox she’s buried in the backyard garden after listening to the preacher on the corner shout about the end of times.
One last chance to leave her mark when the world's been shaken to its core by a national tragedy not even the preacher sees coming.
One last story of humanity’s ability to endure, like in all those historical disasters her mother recites like fairytales.
One last reminder of her existence, when her illness has turned her into such a ghost of her former self, one more exhale is all it will take before she disappears completely.
One last letter to tell the world how she’s lived and who she’s loved and what she’s trying to survive.
"Pogorzelski's exceptional debut shares the challenges, dreams, fleeting optimism, and difficulties of 15-year-old Amelia Lenelli at the turn of the millenium."
- Publisher's Weekly -
Honorable Mention (MG/YA)
Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards
See where it all began!
Get to know the residents and the town of Montours City!
The Last Letter is a semi-autobiographical account of my own experiences living with late-stage, Chronic Lyme Disease. This book, while primarily a work of fiction, became a way for me to share my story, including the struggle to find a diagnosis, the complications that come with treating such a complex illness, and the emotional toll that years of fighting for your own health can take on the soul.
I wanted to share my story, knowing that my experiences with Lyme Disease and similar chronic, "invisible" illnesses are shared by hundreds of thousands of people across this country and the world. I needed to write this story, knowing that the number of Lyme-specific cases keeps growing exponentially, knowing that there are so many others, like me, who feel alone in their suffering and are struggling to just be heard.
I had something to say, but I didn't know how to say it. I had a story to tell, but I didn't know how to tell it. Until Lia offered her voice and the right words followed.
It's my greatest hope that through this story, you can find the inspiration for your own.
With love, Susan
Lyme Disease Awareness
LymeBrave Foundation, Inc. is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing Lyme disease education and awareness while enriching patient and caregivers' lives through support programs.
To connect with the Lyme community on social media, check out Being LymeBrave.
For book excerpts and to learn more about the emotional ramifications of living with
Chronic Lyme Disease, check out the videos below.
"A gripping, sensitively written account of a terrible affliction that is more common than realized."
- Kirkus Featured Review
(Read the full review here!)
"Pogorzelski's exceptional debut shares the challenges, dreams, fleeting optimism, and difficulties of 15-year-old Amelia Lenelli at the turn of the millennium. Adolescence is hard enough, but Amelia is facing other troubles: her physical and mental health are deteriorating. As the symptoms of her mysterious illness worsen--and the attempts to identify a diagnosis continue to fail--her friends disappear into their active lives while Amelia wonders if her own life is ending. She describes her struggles in letters addressed to "Whoever you are," an imagined reader who fills the companionship void. She hides nothing, sharing the depression--and thoughts of suicide--that can accompany sickness, pubescence, and loneliness. Pogorzelski writes this semiautobiographical novel with authenticity, and her young character displays relentless wisdom in an honest, mouths-of-babes style."
- Publisher's Weekly
"Teens reeling with personal and national crises will find themselves in this teen girl's voice. The story evolves from a letter writing assignment, completed out of duty, to a journal that provides much needed mooring through difficult times. The protagonist's voice is the heart of the novel; she is earnest, honest, and her emotions and thoughts are easy to relate to. The book gives an inside look at what it was like to be a teen during September 11, 2001 and its aftermath--a time today's teens don't recall. The broader historical crises matches the tone of the difficulty in the character's life, creating a resonance that will feel familiar and authentic to teens. The story will relate to a wide variety of teen readers, but particularly those who are dealing with Lyme disease or another chronic illness that it hard to live with, understand, and share about with others. The themes of loneliness and connection, despair and perseverance, and beauty in the midst of ugliness are timeless and vital to teen readers looking for something positive in life and in the world around them.. (Ages 12-18)"
- Judge, 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
"This book is a MUST read! The story blends the author's personal struggle with Lyme onto the page. It is an inspiring read for Lyme patients but also very relatable and good to share with friends and family."
- Minnesota Lyme Association
"The Last Letter by Susan Pogorzelski is a thoughtful, authentic and compelling story that will challenge and change your attitude about living silently with a chronic illness…or supporting someone you love who is living with an invisible disease. It is for anyone who has ever felt like they missed out or are currently missing out on life. This book reaffirms that you are not alone and to be grateful for every good day you have. Ultimately, it is a story of hope…that giving up is not an option. And if you push through the darkness, you will find the light again."
- Amazon Review
"As a Lyme/MSIDS sufferer, I felt so much validation and for the first time in over a decade, I felt--FEEL--like I am not alone! I feel like someone gets it, and just knowing that SOMEONE truly gets it is more helpful than any medication! Anyone who suffers from any illness and anyone who knows someone who is or was suffering will be able to relate to Amelia's struggle."
- Amazon Review
"If you are looking for answers to many of the isolating and open ended questions attached to surviving Lyme, you can find them here. Pogorzelski describes biological and metaphysical aspects and experiences of the illness as well as the grip it often has on the interpersonal relationships of those affected. Every survivor story about Lyme Disease is unique to its owner, yet we are able to find connection and comfort in recurring ideas- the pain involved in surviving is meant to be shared to guide others. The Last Letter is an eloquent account of a young woman's journey providing hope and strength for any reader."
- Amazon Review
"I cried for Amelia throughout the book, and had literal chills during parts of it. I ached for her, for her physical and emotional pain. Amelia is my friends and family members who have and do suffer. If you or someone you know has or thinks they have lyme, read this book."
- Amazon Review
"I loved reading this story of a teenage girl with the complications of high school romance and the underlying illness - it was full of mystery, and heartache, empathy, understanding, longing. Great read."
- GoodReads Review
"A series of letters telling an inspiring story you want to know. Received as a goodreads giveaway, I feel fortunate to have read this book and recommend others read it also."
- GoodReads Review
(See the Press page for more editorial and peer reviews.)
The Last Letter Video Series aims to raise awareness and lend a voice to the hundreds of thousands of patients silently suffering from Chronic Lyme Disease. While the often unbearable physical symptoms of Lyme Disease must be acknowledged, the book excerpts in these videos were chosen to emphasize the emotional toll of living with such an illness.
This video series is for entertainment/educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians.
Please consult with your doctor in any matters relating to your own health.
For more information on Lyme Disease, please visit LymeBrave.
(The excerpts in this video series may not reflect the book's final writings.)
VIDEO SERIES CREDITS
Many thanks to the following people who helped make this video series possible!
A thousand thanks to the talented
Star Bunner of Star Films for all the production work done on this series! This awareness campaign wouldn't be half of what it is without him.
A special thanks to Jon Ross and fellow Lymie Briana Carraher of Cheese Teeth Music for their song, "When I Am Blind, I Shall Know the Sun's Face," as heard in the Introduction video. Listen to more of their gorgeous, original songs over on bandcamp.
The Last Letter Video Series: Introduction
The Last Letter Video Series: Letter #1
The Last Letter Video Series: Letter #3
The Last Letter Video Series: Letter #2
The Last Letter Video Series: Letter #4
The Last Letter Video Series: Conclusion