Thursday, January 28, 2016

Meet the Bloggers: Confessions of Carlisa

Meet the Bloggers is a new feature on The Hardcover Lover that I'm particularly excited about because it's all about meeting new people. Each month, there will be a different guest post from a blogger in our community. They will be sharing thoughts about books, characters, plots, tropes, and just about anything in the bookish world.

I really hope that you enjoy these posts. I think they are going to be a great way to discover new blogs, and a great way to forge the bond of our little community.

Meet Carlisa

Today's guest is Carlisa from Confessions of Carlisa. She's here today to let you know why she thinks secondary characters are important to YA literature. 

The Importance of Secondary Characters

When we read books, we mostly think of the main characters. What they’re doing, what they’re thinking, how we relate to them, all these things. And obviously, that’s important. They’re the main characters for a reason. But then there are the secondary characters in novels. Secondary characters are often overlooked or not remembered, which is fair…since they’re not always a part of the main action or seen throughout the entire book. So are they important? Let’s talk about the different kinds of secondary characters and what they mean for the stories: 

[Obviously, I’m making some generalizations. These are not the case for every single YA book out there, but these are what I’ve noticed a lot of the time.]

The Friends

In YA literature, the friends of main characters are so important. Whether fantasy, contemporary, science fiction…a teenager needs friends, a support system. And these secondary characters are here to support the MC in whatever their endeavor may be. And, yes, arguments ensue because that’s real life and that’s what happens. But almost always, the friend will be their in the end to help and love the MC.

Examples: Iko from the Lunar Chronicles, Zuzana from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Rudy from The Book Thief (*starts crying*), 

The Family

Family can often have interesting dynamics in YA books. Sometimes they are, like the friends, a support system. Other times, they are…not that. When they’re not the friendly, encouraging, supportive family members, they’re sometimes mean, degrading, or even abusive. When this is the case, the family can often be seen as the springboard for the MC, the motivation to get out and to do something different and better with their life. And there’s also the family members who are just kind of…there. Who don’t really do much for the main character at all. And finally, there’s the absent family members who are just not there. And despite not actually being in the story much or at all, they are still significant for the MC, who has to learn to deal with being on their own in certain things.

Examples: Hans and Rosa Hubermann from The Book Thief (loving, very present parents), the parents from Coraline (the mentally-absent parents), Wren from Fangirl (the super-close, then distant, then close again sister), Audrey’s mom in Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (over-protective mother)

[Thinking of these examples for family, it can easily be said that these are main characters. And perhaps you’d be correct in saying so, but that stems from a combination of me not coming up with good enough examples and those interesting dynamics of family members that are found in YA lit.]

The (Not Quite) Antagonists

I call them this because if they they were the real “antagonists,” they’d more likely be main characters instead of secondary. But often there are smaller characters who aren’t friends or family or supportive or nice in any way to the MC. But they’re also not big or important enough in the story to warrant a main character classification. They’ve somehow played a negative role in the MC’s life, but they aren’t currently a main character themselves.

Examples: Andy (aka “IT”) from Speak 

The Role Models

In YA lit, especially in the contemporary genre, we often see this in the high school teachers. Often teachers are someone who the MC can trust, can learn from, can rely on for support. They can be quirky or just good ol’ dependable. Besides teachers, though, we can see this kind of character in older siblings, co-workers, even book characters…Just anyone who the MC looks up to as an example.

Examples: Lupin in Harry Potter, Max from The Book Thief 

In Summary

These are just a few examples of the different type of secondary characters found in YA novels. Personally, I love them and I think they’re really underrated. Secondary characters are the ones who help the main character figure out who he or she is, the ones who sometimes tear down the MC, and the ones who—more often than not—build them back up. They can be funny, quirky, sad, mean, anything. They help round out a story and round out the main characters. So, let’s raise our glasses and toast to the too-often-forgotten underdogs: the secondary characters. 

Carlisa is a student with a creative side. She likes to read, write, finger paint, and play piano, among other creative activities. She's  currently an English major and an Editing and Digital Humanities minor at Brigham University in Utah. She likes to think of herself as both corny and cheesy because she's lived in the corny state of Indiana and the cheesy state of Wisconsin.

A huge, huge round of applause for Carlisa! I'm so glad that she was able to provide such a great guest post, and I loved reading about her thoughts on the different kinds of secondary characters that we come across in books.

So what do you think of Carlisa's opinions on the importance of secondary and background characters? Do you agree with them? Do you disagree? Are you thinking about some of your favorite books in a different light now? Do you have any other examples to add to the categories (friends, family, not quite antagonists, and role models)?Feel free to let us know in the comments. We'd love to know what you're thinking!

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