July 21: Top Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters
This topic is very open, but hints include books “featur[ing] minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC, neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc”. I confess I am guilty of not having read as many books celebrating diversity and/or diverse characters as I would like – not for want of trying, I’m just obviously looking in the wrong places. Regardless, here are some of the books and characters that made an impact on me (the first eight) and two more which I intend to read in the near future.
1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Christopher Boone)
Christopher has autism, and this novel tells the story of his search for the killer of his neighbour’s dog. It is handled in a very delicate and innocent manner, and the reader is able to understand and appreciate how some autistic individuals see the world.
2. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (Persephone Hadley and Callum McGregor)
Sephy is black and Callum is white, and they live in a society where the races are at war with each other, yet somehow they still manage to believe in each other and fight for what is right. In this instance the novel celebrates the rights of individuals to be who they want to be, and be with who they want to be, despite external pressures.
3. The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig (Omegas)
Whilst the Omegas (those with physical or mental abnormalities) are not celebrated across the world, there is a sense of solidarity with each other. The Omegas stand up for each other and fight for their rights as human beings, against the oppression of the ruling Alphas.
4. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Don Tillman)
Don is a character with suspected asperger’s syndrome, which is recognised by the reader, but not by the character himself. Don is an incredibly smart science genius, who puts his skills to the test when attempting to locate the biological father of his friend, and potential wife, Rosie.
5. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike)
Whilst not technically celebrated in the novel, Cormoran is a war veteran who lost a leg in the Afghan war. He doesn’t let his disability inhibit his passion and keen eagle eye for detective work, and is often physically on the trail of a murderer.
6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (Charlie Bucket)
Charlie is a child growing up in poverty, who by some good fortune ends up inheriting a chocolate factory. As a character he is tough and kind, and he doesn’t let his societal position affect him or the happiness of his family.
7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Katniss Everdeen)
Despite growing up surrounded by poverty, Katniss learns the skills necessary to hunt to feed her family, ultimately keeping them alive. She is strong and tough thanks to her upbringing, which leads to her victory in The Hunger Games.
8. Holes by Louis Sachar (Detention Centre Youths)
The youths sent to the detention centre in the desert are from all walks of life, in terms of race and social class, but collectively they form a bond based on their experiences and shared courage. It also praises inner strength and persistence (I really must re-read this soon!)
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Charlie Scorsoni)
Everyone and their mother cites this book as one of the most eye-opening, diverse reads – so I’ll be sure to work out what they mean at the next available opportunity. I remember the film being emotionally deep, so I’m expecting great things of the book.
10. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Alberti (Simon Spier)
Simon is not openly gay, but he must deal with his sexuality when he is blackmailed due to an email correspondence gone wrong. This sounds like such a real novel, especially in modern times when such things can so easily happen.
If you’ve read any great books on any of these themes, please feel free to link me down below – I’m always looking for recommendations!
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