I is for (Books About) Identity #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

Many YA books question the nature of identity. It goes along with being a teen. I remember talking about big philosophical questions and being so sure of who and what I was going to be. It’s an important part of the process of growing up. The following are some of my favorite books on this topic.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (YA contemporary): Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in a poor black neighborhood where crime is commonplace but goes to school with primarily rich white kids. One night, she’s out with a black male friend who’s shot by a white cop while reaching for a hairbrush. Her white friends’ reactions are very different from her black friends’ reactions to the shooting, and Starr isn’t sure how to navigate two different worlds.

I loved this book because it doesn’t provide any easy or definite answers. Starr questions the kids and adults around her, trying to make sense of what happened. Because of this, she starts questioning her own assumptions about race, as well as those of both groups of friends.

Every Day, by David Levithan (YA fantasy): A doesn’t think of him/herself as male or female since they wake up in a different body every day. A has always inhabited someone different every day, and has just accepted that’s the way it is until they fall in love with Rhiannon. Once that happens, A has to make their way to Rhiannon every day. This book questions the nature of love and identity. What is it that makes us who we are? It’s a fascinating, original book, and I loved every moment of it. It was recently made into a movie, but I haven’t seen it yet.

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova (contemporary): At 50, Alice is a linguistics professor. When she becomes increasingly forgetful, she goes to the doctor and ends up diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Who are we without our ability to remember? This book was heartwrenching but wonderful. (I like to have my heart wrenched.)

What books have you read about identity?



N is for Narrator

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8380In Every Day, by David Levithan, the narrator is an unnamed person without an identity. The narrator has always inhabited different bodies from day to day, sometimes female, sometimes male, but always the age that the narrator would be.

The narrator knows they’re different, and does their best to fit into the life of the person who’s body they inhabit day to day. All that changes when the narrator falls in love with a girl. Suddenly, being in any body isn’t good enough. The narrator does everything they can to be close to this girl.

What makes the narrator interesting, other than the story, is that the narrator asks good questions about identity and the nature of love. The girl feels that she might be able to love him when he’s in an attractive male body, but when the narrator is in a female body, or an unattractive male body, the girl is not interested.

While this wasn’t the best YA book I’ve ever read as far as enjoyability, I loved the premise and thought the narrator was an amazing character. For creativity, it topped the charts.

I like books that ask questions, even if they don’t answer them. Obviously this one did its job since I’m still thinking about it.

Have you read this one? What do you think of the idea of a narrator without identity?

I is for Identity

We all have an identity, some of us more than one.  I, for instance, have a work identity, a home/ friends identity, and a writing identity.  There’s some spillover between them, like a three part Venn diagram, but I think and act differently depending on the situation.

I don’t think this is a bad thing; I think in many ways, it’s a survival trait.  We all need to do whatever is best to “survive” a situation.  Very rarely is our actual life on the line, but often our self-image and self-esteem may be.  In this time of hyper-connectedness, in which almost everyone has a camera phone and a social media account, we’re no longer allowed to make mistakes.  Mistakes can come back to haunt you later, in a relationship or a job interview.

In my work, I’ve noticed that a lot of people aren’t sure of their own identities.  They seem lost and don’t feel connected to those around them.  They aren’t sure of what’s important and meaningful to them.  They don’t know what they want or where they’re going.  In this age of if-I-want-it-I-can-have-it-now, many people don’t know how to make a plan or to follow through.

As I searched for a topic today, I stumbled upon an article by Ashley Judd.  Apparently, there was a media frenzy speculating that she’d gotten plastic surgery and criticizing her for getting fat because her face was puffy.  In the article, she talks about how dehumanizing it is for everyone (not just her) to speculate and criticize her appearance.  It’s a really well written article, and it came at a time when I was looking for a topic.  After reading it, I had to sit back and think.

She could have allowed the speculation to define her in some way.  Instead, she talks about the reasons that she answered media criticism, and how she refuses to be defined by others.