Dear Mr. Kapps
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by Robert Ferrier
Category: Young Adult/Mainstream
Description: A young cancer victim, Rafe, tells of his experiences and reveals his innermost feelings in a series of letters to Mr. Kapps, his favorite comedian. He receives reluctant replies from Mr. Kapps' secretary, but will Mr. Kapps himself ever write back to him? Living under the shadow of death does not stop Rafe in his quest for the love of a girl who doesn't seem to know he exists. Will Rafe win the girl by befriending her current boyfriend? Rafe finds himself in a challenging friendship with a fellow patient as they attempt to build a P-38 model airplane. Will he win the battle with cancer? Will the model P-38 fly? Read Dear Mr. Kapps to find out.
eBook Publisher: SynergEbooks, 2001 SynergEbooks
eBookwise Release Date: June 2004
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [133 KB]
Reading time: 82-115 min.
"Fourteen-year-old Rafe Mackey, an aspiring comedy writer, keeps himself more or less sane and functional while undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma. His method is to write letters to a nationally known TV comic named Solomon Kapps. 'When I write funny stuff, time goes warpy,' says Rafe, 'I loop into another world.' And another world is a good place to be when you are facing your own fear and pain. Among the other situations Rafe is dealing with are his own performance anxiety, (Do his schtick before an audience? No way.), the failing health and ultimate death of his chemo buddy BB, and the ludicrous 'John Alden' situation he falls into when the most beautiful girl in his class asks him to help her football-hunk boyfriend appreciate books and incidentally pass English. This is much, much more than a problem novel about lymphoma, It's well-written, inventive, many-layered, and genuinely funny. (She's so messy you don't visit her room, you go there with a guide.) Even though Mr. Kapps himself never answers the letters, Rafe finds his own answers through writing them. The book has a few minor flaws (such as the fact that Lea, an older teenager who has survived lymphoma, sometimes talks like a National Cancer Society pamphlet on positive thinking), but they are minor when set beside the story's genuine virtues. I laughed, I cried, I didn't want the book to end. Buy it."--Georgess McHargues
Harmon, OK September 1, 1999
Mr. Solomon Kapps The Sol Kapps Show NBC 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York, N.Y. 10112 Dear Mr. Kapps:
Today I finished reading your book, "Know Jokes!." I hope you can help me. I finished the book in my doctor's office, because I needed something to take my mind off the news--good or bad.
I'm a 14-year-old boy. Dr. Wong told me I had lymphoma, cancer of the lymph glands. I didn't know I had lymph glands. They're supposed to keep me from getting sick. I didn't want to start this letter with a downer, but you need to know the real deal. Dr. Wong said I had a "good" cancer. She meant lymphoma can be cured. She said my cancer hadn't spread much, but by that time I'd already hit the off button.
I write. So I'm writing you.
I'm afraid. I thought cancer happened to old people. My best friend, Stick Dawson, says an 8th grader over at Whittier, Brad Boxleitner, has lymphoma, too. He's the only player who ever stuffed a basketball on Stick.
Dr. Wong said I might meet him. I hope so. Brad Boxleitner and Studbutt Stack are the two best jocks in Harmon. Anyway, Brad is coming in for chemo tomorrow afternoon when I start my treatments. Maybe he'll tell me what to expect. Losing my hair will be a bummer!
Last week, I worried about starting on the football team. Now I wonder if I'll be alive next season. What's going to happen to me!?!
I have cancer. Right now, I need to feel alive. You've got to be asking, "Why's this kid writing me?" Well, I love your television show. I love the way you make Mom and me laugh, and I love your book. You want to know what's weird, Mr. Kapps? I choke when I speak in front of people, but when I write jokes and funny scripts, the kids all laugh. I wrote a comedy play last year for the 7th grade class, and they went crazy. When I make people laugh, I feel good.
Mom's freaked out about this cancer. It's just the two of us. Dad died five years ago of a heart attack. Mom said I can't play football at Kennedy Middle School this year. That killed me! I've played football (offensive guard) since the fourth grade. I dream about three things: football, you, and Jenny (more on her later). I can't imagine not playing football, but Mom and Dr. Wong said maybe next year, when I've finished chemotherapy.
Now I need to write to someone who can make me laugh. I'm scared, Mr. Kapps. Last night I had a nightmare. I saw my own funeral. Guys from the football team carried my casket. I woke up sweating. Maybe you could write something from Chapter One, Getting Material from Your Life. My life's a train wreck: I've got cancer; I can't play football, and my head will shine like a cue ball. Then there's the Jenny thing. But Jenny deserves a whole letter. I promise you, Mr. Kapps; I'm going to beat this cancer.
Sometimes I can be funny. Really, I can. Just cut me a little slack now. I'm crying.
Hoping to hear from you, Rafe (Soon To Be Bald) Mackey