Minooka student’s words live on in book of her writings
By Denise baran-Unland For The Herald-News April 18, 2012 2:40PM
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:09AM
An untitled poem by Allison Rivera, 18, of Channahon, reads, “Mourn me, miss me, and always know I’m near. There is no need to put on an act. Just love me like you would, and after time, don’t look back.”
Proceeds from the sale of each copy of “Allison’s Wonderland” will be go to a special scholarship fund to benefit Minooka High School students planning to study writing or animal science.
That’s because, before Allison’s Oct. 22 death from a heart anomaly, Allison had set two goals for herself: To write and to study animal science at University of Illinois at Champaign.
She had been on her way to those goals.
The school had awarded her a $28,000 scholarship. Unbeknownst to her family, Allison had filled numerous spiral notebooks with journal entries, poetry and short stories. A selection of those stories will benefit other students pursing their dreams in similar fields.
“Her imagination was incredible, her personality contagious, her laughter addictive, her kindness immeasurable,” said Jeannie Rivera of Channahon, Allison’s mother, “but her passion and love for animals and writing were phenomenal.”
No one is certain just how old Allison was when she had started writing, but from the style of her pieces, and the way her writing matured over the years, he estimates Allison was about 9 years old, said Allison’s father, Joe Rivera of Washington.
What particularly struck the family while reading those notebooks after Allison’s death was her rich imagination, profound depth of her outlook on life and her great desire for travel.
“She wasn’t content to stay in the safe port of home,” Joe said. “She wanted to get out and explore the world.”
To assist with the publishing process, Joe worked with Tawnie Cisneros of Cisneros Communications. Cisneros, like the Riveras, was immediately captivated by Allison’s writing style.
To preserve Allison’s unique and strong writing voice, Cisneros edited lightly, focusing mostly on fixing grammar, spelling and punctuation errors, to improve readability. More than once, something Allison said would resonate with Cisernos and she would call out to her husband, “You have to listen to this.”
“That’s what makes this doubly tragic,” Cisneros said. “If Allie could have had another 20, 30, 40 and 50 years, she would have just gotten better and better.”
Joe hopes to sell enough copies to attract the attention of a major publishing house, which will thrust Allison’s story and legacy far wider than the Riveras can accomplish themselves.
In the meantime, the family is working on a website and spreading news of the book to as many people as possible.
“The world lost a wonderful mind when my Allie was taken away,” Jeannie said. “Sharing her writings with the world is just one way we can to keep her alive.”
To order a copy of “Allison’s Wonderland,” email Joe Rivera at email@example.com. The book retails for $15.