Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where book bloggers are invited to share their top ten lists centered on a certain theme.
This week’s theme is “characters who remind me of myself” which was a fun one! Since I mostly just read YA & middle grade, I’m always spotting characters who remind me of myself as a kid or a teen, and it always means so much to see yourself in a book. But, I also thought it’d be fun to talk about characters I wish I was like! There are so many amazing, strong teens in YA that I am inspired by and hope to be like.
Here’s five characters who remind me of myself:
1. Jolie from Things Jolie Needs to Do Before She Bites It by Kerry Winfrey
Just like Jolie, I had an underbite as a teen and had corrective jaw surgery for it. Jolie’s insecurities, fears, and doubts mirored by own so much! I’ve honestly never related to a character so much. I honestly cried while reading this book because I wish it had existed when I was a teen.
Goodreads summary: “Jolie’s a lot of things, but she knows that pretty isn’t one of them. She has mandibular prognathism, which is the medical term for underbite. Chewing is a pain, headaches are a common occurrence, and she’s never been kissed. She’s months out from having a procedure to correct her underbite, and she cannot wait to be fixed.
While her family watches worst-case scenario TV shows, Jolie becomes paralyzed with the fear that she could die under the knife. She and her best friends Evelyn and Derek decide to make a Things Jolie Needs To Do Before She Bites It (Which Is Super Unlikely But Still, It Could Happen) list. Things like: eat every appetizer on the Applebee’s menu and kiss her crush, Noah Reed. Their plan helps Jolie discover what beauty truly means to her.”
2. Kiko from Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Kiko’s complex feelings about her mixed-race identity and her struggles with anxiety reminded me so much of my own experiences. Akemi’s books feel so personal to me, and I can’t wait for her next one.
Goodreads summary: “Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.
But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.”
3. Ramona from Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Ramona is in such a rush to grow up, and she puts so much pressure on herself to be an adult and to know who she is already. I was totally the kind of teen who forced myself to be mature and grown-up at an early age, and seeing Ramona figure out how to be a teen and be vulnerable was so moving!
Goodreads summary: “Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.
Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.
The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.”
4. Peter from Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
I related so much to Peter’s desire to figure out what it means to be half Jewish! Peter and my teen self have so much in common and his journey felt so personal for me.
Goodreads summary: “Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.
But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.
Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.”
5. Imogen from The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston
Imogen’s passion for the Starfield and the way she sees it as so much more than a franchise was such a perfect representation of what it’s like to be immersed in a fandom; Imogen loves Starfield and finds endless inspiration from it, even when everyone else says it’s “just a movie.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer will forever be a huge part of my life, and I related so much to Imogen!
Goodreads summary: “The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.
Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.
When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.”
And five characters who I aspire to be like:
6. Annabelle from Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller
Annabelle is an ultimate friend, fighter for reproductive healthcare, and a girl who supports girls! She’s the kind of friend and young woman that I aspire to be.
Goodreads summary: “A powerful, timely coming-of-age story about a young woman from Texas who goes on a road trip with two friends to get an abortion, from award-winning author Sharon Biggs Waller.
Camille couldn’t be having a better summer. But on the very night she learns she got into a prestigious theater program, she also finds out she’s pregnant. She definitely can’t tell her parents. And her best friend, Bea, doesn’t agree with the decision Camille has made.
Camille is forced to try to solve her problem alone . . . and the system is very much working against her. At her most vulnerable, Camille reaches out to Annabelle Ponsonby, a girl she only barely knows from the theater. Happily, Annabelle agrees to drive her wherever she needs to go. And in a last-minute change of heart, Bea decides to come with.
Girls on the Verge is an incredibly timely novel about a woman’s right to choose. Sharon Biggs Waller brings to life a narrative that has to continue to fight for its right to be told, and honored.”
7. Lou from The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio
Lou is such a spunky, strong girl who loves using her hands and learning new skills. You can totally tell she’s a lifelong learner, and that is truly what I aspire to be.
Goodreads summary: “Lou Bulosan-Nelson is going to build her dream. She shares a room with her mom in her grandmother’s house in San Francisco, and longs for a place of her own where she can escape her lovable but large extended Filipino family. Lou has a talent for woodshop class and creating projects, and plans to build a tiny house, 100 square feet, all her own, on land that she inherited from her dad, who died before she was born. Then Lou discovers it’s not so easy to build one, but she won’t give up on her dream—and her friends and family won’t either. This heartwarming coming-of-age story explores culture and family, forgiveness and friendship, and what makes a house a true home. “
8. Vivian from Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Vivian is totally the kind of teen I wish I had been, and truly inspires me!
Goodreads summary: “Moxie girls fight back!
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.”
9. Annabelle from A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
Annabelle is such a strong girl, who channels grief and trauma into something meaningful. I can only hope to one day funnel my emotions into something so powerful!
Goodreads summary: “When everything has been taken from you, what else is there to do but run?
So that’s what Annabelle does—she runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to college towns. She’s not ready to think about the why yet, just the how—muscles burning, heart pumping, feet pounding the earth. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t outrun the tragedy from the past year, or the person—The Taker—that haunts her.
Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and two friends (her self-appointed publicity team), Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to the trauma from her past. Her cross-country run gains media attention and she is cheered on as she crosses state borders, and is even thrown a block party and given gifts. The support would be nice, if Annabelle could escape the guilt and the shame from what happened back home. They say it isn’t her fault, but she can’t feel the truth of that.
Through welcome and unwelcome distractions, she just keeps running, to the destination that awaits her. There, she’ll finally face what lies behind her—the miles and love and loss…and what is to come.”
10. Anise from Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
Anise is a strong, confident girl who knows what she wants and goes after what makes her happy, and I will always and forever be here for that.
Goodreads summary: “Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.
Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?”
What character reminds you most of yourself? Is there a character you wish you were like?