May 13, 2013

Monday Pep Rally: Who Were You in High School?

Happy Pep Rally Monday, Misfiteers! 

If you'll recall, we've changed up our format a little bit for these posts. Because we've all gotten so used to getting our thoughts down in 140 characters, we're taking the discussion to twitter! Every Monday, we'll be talking about our Pep Rally question on twitter and we'd love you to join in. Just keep an eye out for the #MisfitPepRally hashtag!

A couple of months ago I read a new contemporary YA book that people were obsessing over. And I thought, "Yeah, this is a good book, but I'm not as in love with it as other people seem to be. What's up with that?"

And then I thought about some of the comments I'd read about why people connected with this book so much, and I realized several had something along the lines of "I basically was [insert MC's name here] in high school."

The thing is, I wasn't.

I had nothing in common with that character - not her looks, her background, her experiences, the school she went to, the city she lived in, the family dynamic, her friends, her demeanor... absolutely nothing. And while I certainly enjoy reading characters who are nothing like me, and I love learning about different towns and cultures and experiences, I couldn't help but wonder (she said in her Carrie Bradshaw voice) if maybe that drew the line for me between like and love. Maybe I couldn't love the book because I couldn't see an iota of myself in it.

Which of course then made me think - who was I in high school? What characters did I read that made me think of me?

And here was my bizarre mash-up of an answer:

Jessica Darling
Dan Humphrey


Yeah, I know, but hear me out. Like Dan, I was a comfortable-but-not-wealthy-kid in a school full of super rich kids, many whose world I totally did not get. Unlike Dan - but like Jessica - I didn't do the date-a-rich-kid thing; instead I did the "don't date anyone... but then do, and make sure it's the offbeats ones. Oh, and make sure you crush on guys who screw with your head. That part is very important."

Academically, I wasn't quite as standout brilliant as those guys, but I did A-OK, especially on my SATs, and got into my college of choice. I wrote, though obviously nothing that would've gotten me into The New Yorker. (Ugh, Dan.) Like Jessica, my absolute best friends were long distance, and I didn't quite feel like I mastered fitting into my family. And like both, I packed a lot of crazy and neurotic insecurity into a brain and body that ultimately did just fine.

(I will say, though - I was surrounded by way smarter people than either of these guys, and I liked my friends a whole lot more.) 

SLOPPY FIRSTS was in fact the first book I read where I thought, "This main character is exactly who every girl in high school thinks they are." As I got out of my own world a little bit, I realized that wasn't actually true, but it was who this girl *aims two thumbs at self* thought she was, and that's no small thing. And yes, dear reader, I loved it. Really and truly.

So what about you, Misfiteers? Which YA main characters do you think best echo who you were in high school?


Gina said...

I love this question. I don't know about high school, but the character I've compared myself to the most in earlier school days was Mary Ann from The Babysitters Club. I wasn't forced to wear my hair in braids, but I was painfully shy and plain-looking, so I identified with her. Right up until that sellout moment where the hottest guy in school fell for her. That kind of ended our love affair because that DOESN'T HAPPEN. At least not in my experience!

Sadly, in high school I was basically invisible!

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