Monday, May 6, 2019

Top Ten Characters Who Reminded Me of Myself

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topic is characters we've read about in books who have struck some kind of relatable chord with us. All these characters resonated with me at one time or another, even if they don't all remind me of who I am today.

1. Alice Love (from What Alice Forgot)
I read this book — about a woman who has an accident at age 39 and thinks she's still 29, happily married, and expecting her first child — when I was 29 and expecting to become a mother any day. I could relate to her naïve and idealized views of marriage and parenthood even while acknowledging that they were (are) naïve and idealized. (I'm happy to say that 4 1/2 years later I'm still happily married and happily parenting my 4-year-old son.)

2. Emma Woodhouse (from Emma)
Emma reminded me strongly of my high school self. For one thing, she is over-involved in other people's lives, trying to meddle for their own good, and for another, she is clueless about how to figure out if a man is interested in her, reading into signs that aren't there and missing the ones that are. Once my now-husband finally got through to me (a few months into college) that he was interested in me, I stopped having so much time and brainpower to devote to other people's love lives and starting working on my own, just like Emma.

3. Hermione Granger (from the Harry Potter series)
I realize I'm far from alone here in connecting with Hermione, but nonetheless I do relate to her deep love of learning, her unease around rule-breaking, and her unruly mess of hair (something I recently solved finally by having most of it chopped off!). The only difference is that I would have been happy to get sorted into Ravenclaw and miss out on the all the adventures.

4. Leah Burke (from Leah on the Offbeat)
This is another slice of my high school experience, similar to what I related to in Emma Woodhouse. Leah is the sole single person in a friend group of happy couples, and she starts to feel like she should go out with anyone who shows the slightest interest in her, because maybe that's the best she's going to find. I feel you, Leah, but hang in there — it gets better for both of us!

5. Molly Peskin-Suso (from The Upside of Unrequited)
Another Becky Albertalli book — she really does capture my memories of high school in a way that's relatable without being too painful. Molly is also perpetually single and spends some time flailing around trying to figure out how to dress or act to be "dateable" before finally finding the right person for her. She explains how all of the time waiting makes it that much better when you finally find love (thus the title), something I recognized as how I felt when I met my husband — like, oh, thank goodness I didn't waste time in high school dating a bunch of people, since once I found the right person nothing before that mattered!

6. Patty Bergen (from Summer of My German Soldier)
When I reread this as an adult I was a bit squicked out by the relationship between a 12-year-old and a 22-year-old, but I also 100% saw why this was my favorite book as a 5th grader. Patty was me at that age: She's smart and curious and gets herself into trouble asking too many questions, thinking out loud, and stretching the truth to try to win others' approval and affection. The fondness for my younger self softened my opinion of a book that otherwise would have been a little weird and heavy-handed for me as an adult.

7. Reynie Muldoon (from The Mysterious Benedict Society)
I related to Reynie as a former gifted kid who loved learning and found joy in a gifted program that let me work and learn alongside others who shared my same passion. Although all the members of the Society have different kinds of gifts, they each share the experience of feeling alone and then finding family with one another.

8. Rosemary Cooke (from We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves)
I'm not sure if I related to Rosemary specifically or just to the way Fowler describes the experience, through her eyes, of coming to realize that your own memory is fallible and that you are seeing your own past through a specific lens. At different points in the story Rosemary has to revisit her own life story through a different perspective, and the way that was described resonated with my own life experiences.

9. Taylor Greer (from The Bean Trees)
I honestly remember very little about this book, but I know I read it in high school and I remember it being the first time I felt viscerally like someone was taking things from my own brain and putting them on the page in the mind of a character. I very much want to reread this book and see if I can figure out what it was I related to so strongly.

10. Twinkle Mehra (from From Twinkle, with Love)
There's a lot of YA I don't like, but apparently one theme in the books I like is relatability to my teenage self. In this case, I related not just to Twinkle's experiences trying to navigate drama in a friend group (which was high school for me) but also to the way she made mistakes out of a fierce, misguided sense of justice (which was me until probably my early 20s). I'd like to think I wasn't quite as annoying as Twinkle, though.

Which characters have you related to?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Ask a Manager, Half the Sky, and America's Public Schools
Five years ago I was reading: The Prophet and War and Peace
Ten years ago I was reading: Marley and Me

No comments:

Post a Comment