Sometimes when I’m in book stores, I like to look at some of the YA urban fantasy books that are available. I’m not sure if my book is really YA. It’s certainly at the older end of the spectrum, what with all the sex and violence etc. But if someone was going to put my book in a physical book shop, it would probably end up on the shelves beside these other books.
A lot of the books I’ve looked at all begin their blurbs with a very similar sentence.
“[Insert girl protagonist name] was pretty/popular/perky/sassy/really really ridiculously good looking and had everything a girl could want.”
At which point I immediately put the book back on the shelf.
It’s not that this is a bad opening line or anything. And there is nothing wrong with having an attractive and likeable protagonist. I get that these characters are meant to be escapism for the reader. Teenage girls want to BE that character, right?
But what if they don’t?
There is no way my teenage self could relate to a character like that. In fact, I was so far removed from all those things that I didn’t even bother WANTING to be like that. It never even occurred to me as an option.
Surely, I’m not alone. There are plenty of other oddballs and weirdos and freaks out there who just aren’t going to be interested in reading about characters which they have no desire to relate to.
In How to Disappear Completely, the protagonist isn’t especially pretty. She’s certainly not popular. Nor does she want to be. She’s not trying to please anyone. She is only trying to be herself. Her strength does not come from an ability to make boys like her. It comes from her ability to not give a flying fuck what anyone thinks of her.
Now THAT is something I would like to relate to.
So, to all the people out there who don’t fit in, to all the people who have been called weirdos and freaks, to all the people who were unpopular at school and didn’t give a fuck:
This book is for you.