This meme was created for YA Midnight Reads as a discussion post of all things bookish.
Earlier this year, Larissa wrote a post called Importance of YA which everyone should read if they haven’t already, because it’s an amazing post. Today I just want to say that I completely agree with her, and I want to add some more reasons to the list of why YA is so important.
Everyone knows the typical YA heroine – she’s shy, socially awkward and bookish (and preferably beautiful). We’ve all groaned over the fact that this heroine is everywhere – there’s a reason I call this person the “typical” YA heroine. I’ve complained about it myself, because I want to see more diversity not only in the most straightforward meaning of the word, but also as a diversity in character. After all, not everyone is alike.
Today, however, I want to bring an ode to the typical YA heroine. Because I am her.
We live in a society that’s set up to benefit extravert people more. I’m not saying this to complain, or to feel sorry for myself. It’s just a fact – society expects us all to be outgoing. People generally seem to like the outgoing, social types more than that awkward person who’s hiding in the back of the room. I am not saying this to be critical of outgoing and social people – not at all. We need them in society, they’re a part of diversity too.
But because of this, I used to feel like I was strange, odd. I was never the one to open her mouth first, or to quickly make new friends, or enjoy social situations. I was the observer, studying the people around me from a safe spot in the corner. I was always reading, constantly with a book in my hand, my thoughts focused on stories rather than real life. I watched everyone around me grow up, grow popular, get their first kisses and a confidence that was something I didn’t know. Everyone, except me and my little group of equally shy friends.
I felt like the odd one out. I was happy enough – my friends are the best friends you can imagine, and we always had our own space – but I just wondered why I wasn’t like the rest. I don’t mind being strange or unique – sometimes I revel in it. But I just wanted to know. What did they have that I didn’t have? Was there anyone else like me, except my friends?
And it turned out that there were others. Dozens of them, hidden in the pages of favourite and yet-to-be-discovered books. Heroines of their own story, who were just as shy and awkward as me. They got their own romances, their own beasts to battle, their own stories to tell. Each and every one of them mattered in some way. They were normal. And just like me.
I don’t think I can say that books saved me, or showed me that I was worth something after all. I think I would have turned out okay if I hadn’t read these stories. But I’m still very grateful that I did discover these heroines who beared so much resemblance to me. They gave me the confidence I needed, confirmation that being shy and introverted and socially awkward is not wrong, and not abnormal. They gave me that little push I needed.
This is also why diversity in books is so important – diversity in every possible meaning of the word. Everyone deserves to find themselves in books, to get confirmation that they are both unique and normal, that they exist. And though I love to complain about the typical shy YA heroine that I’ve seen in many books before, I am also grateful that she exists.
Have you ever found solace in books? Had experiences similar to mine?
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