Monday, November 6, 2017

Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders

I'm linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This topic turned out to be more challenging than I expected because well-written characters are often also deeply flawed characters, and we like to think of our leaders as having only the most minor flaws. I eventually found some great characters whose central conflicts (in their books) are mostly external, so there's evidence that they can make good decisions in difficult situations. I'm leaving it open-ended what the leadership role is... but I don't think it's a stretch to say I'd take any of these fictional characters over our current U.S. president.

1. Aminata Diallo (Someone Knows My Name)
Aminata went through some of the most challenging parts of history — being captured and forced into slavery, living through the American Revolution, facing discrimination in Nova Scotia, and helping found Freetown, Sierra Leone. Through it all she was inventive, determined, and confident.

2. Brother William (The Name of the Rose)
Brother William was a voice of rationality in an age steeped in superstition. (The book takes place in 1327.) In the midst of widespread panic over a series of murders, Brother William managed to stay calm and put together clues even while his methods were viewed with suspicion by everyone around him.

3. Clark Thompson (Station Eleven)
Many of the characters in this post-apocalyptic novel showed guts and inventiveness, but Clark was my favorite and the one I'd want leading me if 99% of the earth's population died. He leads by example, both in his care for others and in his attempts to preserve the history of life before the pandemic.

4. Cordelia Naismith (Cordelia's Honor)
In this sci-fi novel, Commander Cordelia Naismith has to contend with a lot of other characters (mostly male) trying to control her, and she is a fierce advocate for herself and, eventually, her child. She also comes from a world with different, and in some cases more advanced, technology, and so she has to convince others to try things that are totally foreign to them. If I were thrown into her world, I would serve under her.

5. Dana (Kindred)
Dana, a modern black woman, is repeatedly transported to the antebellum South, where she has to use her quick wits to protect herself and as many of those around her as she can. She shows an amazing cool-headedness in some terrible situations and great planning and wisdom in preparing herself for her return journeys.

6. Genly Ai (The Left Hand of Darkness)
Genly is given a huge task — to convince those on the planet Winter to join an interplanetary network that they know nothing about and don't believe exists. He can't bring his ships down from orbit until he knows they'll be welcomed safely, but the world leaders won't agree to that without seeing them first. Throughout all this he has to navigate the hugely complex intraworld politics while being perpetually cold and far, far away from home. The fact that he manages everything he does so deftly makes him a solid leader in my book.

7. Love Simpson (Cold Sassy Tree)
This is a woman who is not beholden to public opinion. Amidst the local scandal of her marriage to a newly widowed older man, she preserves her dignity and takes a practical approach to becoming ingrained in the town life. You can imagine her in any emergency immediately taking charge and getting all the necessary operations organized and running.

8. Maddie (Cold Name Verity)
I don't want to spoil anything of this easily-spoiled book for those who haven't read it, but Maddie is a badass WWII pilot who can stay calm under pressure and make really hard decisions when necessary.

9. Marie-Laure LeBlanc (All the Light We Cannot See)
Another World War II novel! Marie-Laure not only doesn't let her blindness hold her back, she uses it to her advantage — who would suspect a blind girl as serving a key role in the French Resistance?

10. Rashad (All American Boys)
Rashad is already on his way to being a leader as a star student and JROTC cadet when he finds himself thrown firsthand into the national controversy over racism and police brutality. As the victim of a police beating and the son of a former police officer, Rashad gets a crash course in the challenges and complexities of having a conversation about policing in the United States. By the end of the book he's found his voice and wants to do his part to fight back against these problems.

Which of these characters would you want as your leader?

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