What is the theme of I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda?

The themes of I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives are the necessity of a firm commitment to goals and the value of both giving and accepting help.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The memoir I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda revolves around the themes of commitment to one's goals and the beauty of giving and accepting help.

Martin Ganda of Mutare, Zimbabwe is set on receiving an education. His dream is to attend college in the US so that he can better provide for his family in Zimbabwe. Martin works extremely hard to attain his goals, and he does not let any obstacles stand in his way. He studies hard even as he struggles to earn money to help his family and keep himself in school. When his father loses his job, Martin faces the all-too-real possibility of having to let go of his dream of an education.

But Martin is fortunate, for he has a pen pal from the US, a girl by the name of Caitlin Alifirenka. The two begin writing to each other in junior high, and they make a commitment to always answer each other's letters. Caitlin, therefore, knows that something is very wrong when Martin stops responding. He simply doesn't have money for postage, and he cannot even earn enough to continue in school. At this point, Caitlin begins sending money to Martin out of her own babysitting earnings. She realizes that he needs the funds much more than she does. Her parents also begin sending money as well, and Martin completes the school year, takes his exams, and earns the high score in his school all because of the generosity of Caitlin and her family and because of his own humble ability to accept help.

The themes do not end there, though. Martin humbly borrows some money from a cousin to pursue his education further at a school designed to prepare him for a US college education. Caitlin's mother works hard to find a college that will offer Martin a necessary full scholarship. Caitlin herself is so inspired by Martin that she decides to pursue her own education and become a nurse. After many disappointments, Martin finally attains his goal when he is accepted with a full scholarship to Villanova University. Through his own hard work and the generosity of others, Martin gets the education he has always wanted (even pursing an MBA).

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on