This was supposed to go up on Tuesday, but then I was suddenly exhausted, and then on Wednesday I realized I should probably, like, pack for vacation. Anyway, in no particular order:1. Lirael, Lirael and AbhorsenLirael
meant a lot to me during a shitty time of my life in middle school, as a bookish weirdo with no friends who spent most of my free time in the library. I even had the unusual dark hair in my sea of scandinavian classmates! Clearly I was not just a misfit but rather had a great destiny ahead of me.
Even after I sort of found my feet a bit better, socially, and made some new friends, I still related to the title character's appreciation for solitude—and I suppose also in retrospect her determination to figure out how everything around her works.2. Myfanwy Thomas, The Rook
I describe The Rook
as kind of a shy girl power fantasy—lose your memories and everything that's conditioned you to shrink away from conflict and become even more kickass than you already were. And you can 100% sign me up for that power fantasy
.3. Sophie Hatter, Howl's Moving Castle
HAHA CAN YOU SEE A THEME YET
I get, like, extra-sullen about the Howl's Moving Castle movie, which I understand a lot of people love—it's a beautiful movie! But it totally skips the part of the story that I love, which is Sophie breaking away from the narrative of "this is just the way things are and always will be" that she's trapped herself in and finding the power she had all along.
also WHERE DID THE BIRD-MAN THING COME FROM, I DON'T UNDERSTAND, MIYAZAKI
sorry, I uh, got sidetracked there, moving along4. Madoka Kaname, Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Probably everyone feels this way to a certain degree, but I have a little momentary existential crisis now and again about whether my life choices are doing any good for anyone. The way being a magical girl relates to growing up in this show feels to me a little bit like a weird parallel to adulthood in general—full of tough choices with no take-backs wherein you might be screwing the world over for your own personal comfort, but that's what it takes to survive. (#no ethical magical girling under late capitalism?)
Also, like—admittedly I originally watched the show during a time when I
was not doing super well, but I could definitely relate to the feeling of watching friends go to a not-good place and not knowing what to do about it.
Anyway, that wandered a bit, but I really connected a lot to Madoka's "...can't I just help people, though" feeling. I guess if one takes lessons from fiction, the solution is go big or go home, ha ha.5. Mayu Shimada, Wake Up, Girls!
Mayu is a quiet, stoic sort of person with a strong sense of justice and who loves the performing arts. She says several times throughout the show that she believes that "some people can make everyone happy, some people can make those around them happy, and some people can only make themselves happy." Seeing herself as a failure at the first two, she's seeking her own happiness, finally—which, ironically, is what puts her on track to maybe accomplish the other two.
It was a storyline I really needed at the time, personally (the entire show is actually great about self-care, which was surprising but awesome), and it stuck with me.6. Hime Shirayuki/Cure Princess, Happiness Charge Pretty Cure
So, this is one of the only depictions I've seen of a socially anxious introvert who nonetheless likes to be the center of attention in the areas where she's confident, and I strongly identify
with that. I'm also delighted by the fact that she's always mildly sullen when her friends drag her off for do-gooding because she wants to stay inside and not talk to strangers, and maybe sleep. And the show doesn't punish her for it! She learns to push herself when she needs to, but it's treated just as who she is.7. Kell Tainer, X-Wing: Wraith Squadron
It was about eight years after I first read this book that I was finally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. But even at twelve I saw a lot of myself in anxious, perfectionist Kell. Like, they sent me to the guidance counselor in fifth grade because I suddenly became inconsolable
about getting less than 100% on math and spelling quizzes.
Like Kell, I don't think it'll ever really leave me, but also like him, I've gotten a lot better in dealing with it.8. Meg Murray, A Wrinkle in Time
I don't know why I didn't relate as strongly to Charles Wallace, actually, since I read this book for the first time when I was six, but Charles Wallace is kind of a hard character to relate to in that he's a little bit of a cipher and spends a quarter of the book creepily possessed. Maybe I knew I was going to grow up to be a bit like Meg.
In any case, this was the first science fiction book I ever read, and I'm very glad about it.9. Keladry of Mindelan, Protector of the Small
She's unusually tall, bad at talking about her feelings, and has an unwavering commitment to justice. Thirteen-year-old me totally related to the first two items and aspired to the third; current-me feels the same way.10. Mightily Oats, Carpe Jugulum
This is sort of a battle of "but which
Discworld character do I feel the most strongly about"—I could have put several on this list. Terry Pratchett and I have nowhere near the same religious beliefs, but in Oats he wrote a character who rang really true for me. It's a weird, odd thing to reconcile a benevolent higher power with a troubled, contradictory, confusing world, and I think he captured that really well.