Monday, March 31, 2014

I Swear This Author Knows Me

Three new books I'm excited we have in the kids section!

1.Spirit Animals 3: Blood Ties by Garth Nix and Sean Williams
I am eager to see what Nix and Williams do with what Stiefvater and Mull set up.

2. Who's in the Tree by Craig Shuttlewood
I was delighted by this rhyming, lift-the-flap picture book. I excitedly handed it off to my fellow kids booksellers. Shoshana even read it for Story time yesterday

3. Flight of Angels by Rebecca Guay and various
Okay, this one isn't strictly speaking a kids book. It could be older YA with someone like Holly Black submitting a story. The point is that it's beautiful and we have it.

I, like a lot of people, love quotes. I love when one gets stuck in your head or when you can think of a perfect one for something that happens, or as a snarky response to someone. There's a sort of kinship in finding a quote that means something to you, like you and the author understand each other.

One of my favorite quotes is actually about this feeling. It's from Alan Bennett's play The History Boys: “The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours."

It's was an immediate favorite as soon as I heard it (admittedly, having seen the movie before reading the play) because that's so exactly true. I've read so many things and had these moments of just thinking "Yes! That! Exactly that!" Sometimes they're just moments, rare little lights in a character in that doesn't ordinarily remind you of yourself but sometimes it's a whole narrator who just has a really strong streak of you in them.

And that got me thinking about some of my favorite narrators. Characters who I saw so much of myself in. I was in middle school when Quizilla was big (I'm dating myself, I think). Quizilla was (is?) this website that let you make quizzes, a lot like the ones that Buzzfeed has out now. My favorites were always the "Which character from [insert book title here] are you?" It made me think a lot about why I liked the characters I liked and how similar or different I was to my favorites and even my least favorites.

Unsurprisingly, some of my favorites are ones that remind me of myself. That make me feel like I'm not the only one who thinks or feels a certain way about something. I thought that I would tell you about a couple that stuck with me.

1. Mara Dyer from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
This is probably an interesting choice since she spends quite a bit of time being unsure what is real and what's not but she has a really similar thought process to me (should I be admitting that?). I would be reading and would react to something a character said the same way she would. She's cynical, snarky, and unapologetic about it and I always appreciate a character who makes no excuses about who they are.

2. Cullen Witter from Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
I never stop talking about this book (and likely never will). I've had more than one person read it and tell me that Cullen reminded them of me. Cullen has a defensive sort of sarcasm that he uses often when he's not sure what's going on. His first reaction to things is always to try and be clever and more often then not he speaks without thinking. And his family is a large part of who he is.

3. Amelia Hayes from Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
This is such an unflinching look at the awkwardness of 15 year old girls and their crushes. I, as stoic as I try to be now, was one of those girls. I had an immediate kinship with Amelia, wanting to be older and seen more mature by her family. I flinched and had to pause to take a breath when awkward things happened (having the benefit of years to know that it wouldn't end like she hoped).

4. Puck Connolly from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
She's fierce and strong and willing to do anything to she needs to to protect her family. Her voice is dry and clever. Puck is headstrong and often just says what she means and does what she thinks is best, regardless of what others think. She has such a unique perspective on the races, going into them as an underdog and playing by her own rules.

5. Tris Prior from Divergent by Veronica Roth
Tris' conflict within herself sets us up for discovering her world. It was easy to be in her head because she struggles with ideas that are so similar to what everyone struggles with. And she gets emotional but not overly so very often. It was awesome to have found a YA narrator who looked at things so logically and in a way that made sense to me. I felt I would have done much the same thing in her place multiple times throughout the series.

Honorable Mention (because she's not technically narrator but you're in her head enough):
Keladry of Mindelan from The Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce
I wanted to much to be just like Kel when I was young (I still do). I was a really emotional little kid and my sisters took full advantage of that (as siblings are wont to do). As I got older I learned to mask that a little and Kel was great at that. I found her right when I embraced myself for who I was and stopped letting what everyone else thought bother me. And she's the perfect embodiment of that. She's clever enough to be witty and to know when to keep her mouth shut but she is who she is. Always.

The thing about all of these characters is that I felt like they saw the world the same way that I do, or relate to people the same. It's easy, I think, to fall in love with a character. To love their adventurous nature and their language but it's different to see yourself in one so strongly to just have what they do make sense. To feel like you're part of their story because you would have made the same decision. It's like getting a glimpse of what you're own life would be like in that world.


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