“She wasn’t like other girls.”
This cliché is one that plagues the world of young adult books. In recent years, teen romance novels have gained infamy for an endlessly recycled and reused character that can make any book aficionado physically cringe. This undoubtedly familiar character can be described as an artsy, alternative girl that catches the protagonist’s eye by being quirky and unconventionally beautiful.
When an impressionable preteen is repeatedly told that they need to be different to be appealing, it begins a tireless quest to discover one’s own special characteristics.
Critics of young adult novels have argued that the overuse of this character type creates an unattainable standard for many adolescents. When an impressionable preteen is repeatedly told that they need to be different to be appealing, it begins a tireless quest to discover one’s own special characteristics. Then when one finds out they are just like everyone else, it leads to deep disappointment and emotional turmoil.
Rather than perpetuate the misconception that being “just another girl” is a negative quality, rising novelist Jamie Webster has devised a revolutionary solution. In her debut book, Webster makes the main character’s crush completely and utterly average.
“Think about the most normal girl you have ever met, and then remove any indicators of individuality,” Webster said. “That’s what I did with this book. It was a grueling process and I had to do a lot of soul-searching along the way, but I think the finished product was worth the struggle. Any uninspiring individuals out there will be able to relate to this story.”
But Webster’s new concept could have impacts extending far past just fans of teen fiction. By creating such a two-dimensional character, Webster could be opening up a door to “reverse diversity” in a variety of media.
Diversity in movies, books and television shows has been a hot topic for years. It is vital for consumers, especially children and teens that are still developing a sense of self, to see characters and celebrities that they can identify with. But when there is a limited amount of characters or room for character development, it can be difficult to introduce a varied set of individuals in a way that feels organic. By eliminating any overly defining characteristics, Webster’s approach could decrease the need for diversity in books.
By eliminating any overly defining characteristics, Webster’s approach could decrease the need for diversity in books.
“Through crafting a character that nearly anyone can relate to, Webster has found a way to meet many people’s innate need for recognition and representation,” New York Times book critic Adam Holding said. “It’s simple, but brilliant.”
Webster’s descriptions of the character will reportedly exclude race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, height, weight, zodiac sign, political party membership or any other traits that could make readers feel excluded or misrepresented. Webster hopes that she will be perceived as just a normal teenage girl.
“I think readers will find her very relatable,” Webster said. “I made the writing so vague that it’s nearly impossible not to.”
No matter how people respond to it, it is clear that this teen novel isn’t going to be like other books.
This is a satirical article and should not be taken seriously. It was written with the intent of making people laugh. Any information here is most likely false and should not be quoted as fact. However, if this article is used for anything other than its recreational use, the writer and Cooper City High School claim no responsibility if anyone gets offended, injured or otherwise hurt in any way.
Illustration by Colin Camblin