How Fiction Saved My Life // Narratives Around Being Different In YA Literature

This post has been a long time coming and it’s probably on a topic that we’ve all heard a little bit about, right? But you know what, that’s okay, because it’s the reality of my personal experience. I want to talk about my personal experience with how literature made me feel less alienated.

So I feel like me turning to representation of queer people in fiction is sort of a given.  And I’ve talked about that a lot and I will probably talk about it more.

But there’s another experience that fiction gave me — trauma. My parents divorced when I was seven, both of whom were dealing with their own shit in different ways, and my childhood was exceptionally unhappy. This kept me scared to connect with other people. It kept me far away.

And maybe as a result of this, but maybe just due to who I am, I grew up awful at understanding other people. I think I pretended for years that I was the norm, that I had just been weird in my younger grades and I had totally understood and just not cared, but I didn’t have the capability to look at other people’s thoughts and actions beyond skin deep — and worse yet, I didn’t trust any of them. I spent most of my time around other people trying to make myself palatable, trying to avoid saying something I thought was funny because I knew no one else would, trying to avoid saying something sad.

So, maybe understandably, I grew up not feeling normal. I couldn’t have put it into words if I tried, but the only constant in my childhood was a profound sense of alienation. I made up normal-kid reasons I was upset, like a rumor being spread about me, and lied to myself enough that they felt like truth.

So for me, fiction was the first way I understood other people. I related to every narrative about alienation. I related to every person who didn’t fit in in that indefinable way that you can’t put your finger on, not when you’re a kid, because you don’t know yet.

What’s funny is I don’t think I’ve ever found a character in literature who is exactly like me and I don’t think I ever will and that’s okay. I’m okay with that. But every time I read about a character who feels different, who is different and that’s okay, that feels like everything to me.

Do you relate to this at all? Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments!watercolor-2087454_960_720Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

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20 thoughts on “How Fiction Saved My Life // Narratives Around Being Different In YA Literature

  1. Omg I loved this! I can actually really relate… While I’m lucky enough to have had a relatively happy childhood I always felt different to other people when I was younger too (I still do tbh, only now I’m way more confident and I sort of own it lol) and reading about people who felt the same way as me really helped me feel more confident in who I was. Coming up with stories also really helped me when I was a kid – I struggled to express my feelings so I would often write stories that expressed what I was feeling, that was how I communicated things about me to others. It actually still mostly is 😊 Anyway I really liked this!

    Andrea @ https://spaceshipsvampiresandsecretagents.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally get what you mean! You put it so well
    I also felt alienated (though for different reasons) and turned to books, just knowing that it’s okay to be different, or to feel not okay is so important

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  3. This is so brave to share, Elise! Such a great post! I can completely relate as well. I moved a lot and went to so many different schools it’s ridiculous. There were times I didn’t go to school for months and it was just a mess. My childhood was happy in the sense my mum did her best but her partners made it hell. Fiction was always there for me to fall back on and give me an escape. I was happy in the moments with a book in my lap. I didn’t read stories that represented me until recently because of the triggers within them. However, I’m so glad fiction was able to be there for you ❤️

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  4. Wow I can relate to this so much! Reading fiction has done so much for me as well; seeing even some part of myself represented in a book makes me so happy and makes me feel like I’m normal and I belong. Representation truly matters; it’s so important. Thank you for sharing; this is a beautiful post. 💗

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  5. My pre-teen years weren’t the happiest either, and reading about girls who also felt like that made me feel seen and understood. I get that the ‘I’m different than other girls’ can be a toxic idea, and I agree, but we can’t deny that, at some point, those narratives made us feel less alone. Plus, they can also be done well, but 10 years ago there weren’t as many options as there are today

    Like

  6. I love you and I’m very happy that you could find some kind of comfort in literature!!!! 💛💛 I think I luckily had a relatively happy childhood but I’ve always felt the alienation that comes with being a POC in a mainly white society :// anyways it’s a sentence later and I still love you

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