Letters to Gemma
In 2009, 11-year-old Gemma Hart-Hobman was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and spent a year undergoing operations and chemotherapy, only just surviving. During her treatment family friend Bryan Carter wrote a series of long letters to Gemma. Intended to divert, amuse and challenge Gemma, the letters covered a wide range of topics, from religion to advertising to economics. As she bore the hardship of aggressive medical treatment, Gemma says that the letters helped her continue to view the world in a way that wasn't filtered through the lens of cancer. The letters are light-hearted yet provocative insights into a myriad of important and often-ignored questions such as: How did laws arise? How did religions start? Do ghosts exist? Is there anything to astrology? Why are we so bad at looking after the environment? "Letters to Gemma" is a great gift for teenagers or anyone who wants a funny and thought-provoking entry point for contemplating values, ethics and the philosophical dilemmas of modern life.
Bryan Carter worked as a mountain guide at Aoraki Mount Cook for over 30 years. He was a family friend when Gemma fell ill and he wrote this series of essays over a period of 15 months. He now lives in Christchurch.