Oftentimes, the characters we connect with through the books we read are the subconscious parts of our being that are looking in the mirror and seeing themselves through those characters. With this being said, I feel the trials and tribulations those characters go through in the story can be ones that we personally connect with. Getting the opportunity to see somebody work through our own problems in life second-hand can be comforting, validating and inspiring.
Dealing with our personal struggles in life can bring a variety of different emotions out of us, and a lot of the time, they are the more uncomfortable ones to deal with. There is a comfort in working though our own life’s issues while being able to step into the shoes of somebody else. Through this, you get to see how the character experiences “your” problems, how it makes them feel, what they decide to do about it, and what the result of it ends up being without any of it affecting you personally. It’s great to read and be able to think, “I know exactly what this character is feeling!” Another great thing about identifying with a character that reminds you of yourself is it gives you the opportunity to see the things you love about yourself through somebody else. We are always harshest critic, and seeing a character who you love that experiences the same problems as you can provide an opportunity to be kinder to yourself and know that you are lovable too. I truly feel that our favorite book characters can be the springboard to offering ourselves self-acceptance and self-love.
There are some books I have personally read where I identify greatly with the characters, and it made the reading experience so much better for me. I look back on who those characters are, the things that have happened in their lives and how they’ve had to work through them, and it really resonates with me. I’ve taken who those characters are and applied those same things I love about them, as an opportunity to love myself and help me navigate through my own similar life situations.
Below are a few books I have recently read that I found have characters that experience real-life problems that I think a lot of people can connect, relate and heal through:
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero: This is a Young Adult Fiction about Gabi, a high school senior, who is dealing with all the stressors that every other senior experiences – what to do with her life after high school, and how that will impact the life she’s currently living. On top of college applications and anxious for acceptance letters, she’s also dealing with the pressures of how to navigate being an overweight girl in a world that idolizes skinny women, trying to be there for her best friends - one who becomes pregnant their senior year, and the other being kicked out of his home for coming out to his parents. On top of all this, Gabi’s father dies from a drug overdose and her mother becomes pregnant. Gabi is trying to hold it all together but finds, to hold it all together, you must let your feelings out. She learns to do this in a healthy way through her love of poetry and uses it as an opportunity to cope and connect with the losses she’s experiencing. Through it all, she attains more happiness, confidence and creates the life of her dreams. I think this book can resonate with a lot of people who are experiencing difficult life circumstances and how a healthy expression of oneself can help increase your self-love and bring into your life more of the things that make you happy.
by Jeannine Zusy: This is an Adult Fiction about a woman named Maggie who must take in her elder special-needs sister, Ginny, because her health is failing and she no longer can live on her own. Through this story Maggie must navigate her difficult relationship with Ginny – the ways her sister has made her life more difficult since childhood and the ways she's been a positive influence in Maggie's life. She learns how to be her defiant sister’s caretaker, and along the way, learns how to take better care of herself and her relationships with others. She learns how to become a better mother to her son’s and how to work through the failed marriage with her husband. She learns how to love herself for who she is and not beat herself up for who she isn't. Maggie also learns how to prioritize herself for the first time in her life and recognizes that's where so many of her issues stemmed from to begin with. It’s a great story a lot of people can connect with because I feel that it’s very honest in what life and our relationships with others look like – it's never perfect but rather a combination of both the good and the bad. Maggie’s story helps the reader see that life and our relationships don’t need to be perfect to be beautiful or to be great– nor do we.
I hope this blog gave you something to think about. I hope you take the time to reflect on some of your favorite book characters and think about the character traits about them that you appreciate, or perhaps the struggles they’ve endured that you connect with, and use it as an opportunity to look at yourself with kindness. Story telling can be so much more than for the sake of entertainment. It can also give us an opportunity to better understand ourselves and our own life stories with love, appreciation and inspiration.