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"Mrs. Miniver. She taught me grace, gentility, and wonder. Her appreciation of domestic life helped her create an island of calm in a world gearing up for war—and helped me find tranquillity during my husband's unemployment and my son's terminal illness."
— Loris Simcik
Bloomfield, Connecticut

"Mary Poppins. She could snap my house into shape!"
— Angela Brooks
Bend, Oregon

"Atticus Finch. I was quite young when I first read To Kill A Mockingbird, so my first impression was that he was the perfect father—Jem and Scout were lucky to have him. Upon subsequent readings, I came to admire Atticus for his kindness, even temper, and sense of honor and decency. Those values were most evident when he sat outside the jailhouse all night, guarding Tom Robinson from the angry mob. I would like to shake Atticus's hand, and hug him, and thank him for being an example of who we all should strive to be—someone who walks the walk and believes in compassion for our fellow man... and the mockingbird."
— Linda Belmont
Oak Ridge, NJ

"Huckleberry Finn and Scout Finch—I even named two of my children after them! Their barefoot zest for life and adventure lives on in my babies."
— Becky Herbet
Santa Barbara, CA

"Scarlett O'Hara. When she was in the worst place of her life, she saw a way out and ended up on top again, never letting anything bring her down."
— Ena Flaherty
Dorchester, MA

"Lillian Leyb, from Amy Bloom's novel Away. The name doesn't inspire visions of a heroic adventure, but Lillian is the real deal. A creative and redemptive purpose—searching for her daughter—drives her to Siberia. As heroic trials go, Bloom creates some truly original ones for Lillian: assisting an amateur tattoo artist in a women's detention center, nurturing three children abandoned in the frozen Yukon, and helping a prostitute get revenge on her pimp. I'd love to meet Lillian not because she's a survivor but because she's authentic—she knows the failings of humanity and is still full of love. Who doesn't want to meet a hero?"
— Mary Jeanne Hawes
Newport Beach, CA

"Etna Van Tassel from All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve. Despite the rigid social mores of the early 20th century, she carved out an oasis for herself—and that inspired me to begin my own rebirth. Facing menopause, an empty nest, and the end of my fifth decade, I changed my job, worked on my family relationships, took golf lessons, and learned Zumba. I would love to thank her for inspiring the journey that brought me to where I am today."
— Jennifer Sweeney
Lake Elsinore, CA

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