December 28, 2017
Who are the memorable, inspiring, and unforgettable characters that you still think about days, weeks, months, or years later?
For me, one joy of reading is experiencing life through someone else’s perspective and at the same time building compassion and understanding. Similar to choosing favorite books, choosing favorite characters from the year’s reading is a daunting task! My initial list was very long, and I’ve condensed it to the most memorable of the memorable characters from my 2017 reading (in no particular order).
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I still think of brave, traumatized, quirky, and lonely Eleanor (and wait patiently for a sequel).
Her bravery is a beacon of hope for others. In the midst of deep personal pain, she carves out a life for herself and dares to hope for more. When confronted with the scariest prospects of all…friendship and love… she faces the fear with her same trademark courage.
In time, I think she really will be fine.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Also exemplifying the character trait of bravery is Auggie Pullman. Unlike Eleanor’s hidden internal pain, Auggie battles the discomfort of public appearances because of his facial abnormality.
Auggie’s bravery enables all children (and adults) who look different from others to face their physical challenges and live full, meaningful, and productive lives. Furthermore, his bravery teaches all of us to be accepting and KIND.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache
Glass Houses by Louise Penny
(#13 in the popular Three Pines Inspector Gamache series)
When I think of Inspector Gamache in this character driven series, I think of integrity and compassion. I’m continually impressed that in his difficult career, assignments, and pressures, he treats others with respect.
Interestingly, in a Louise Penny interview, she indicates that when she created the character of Gamache, she created a man whom she could have married. The rationale for this being she would spend years with him as a main character in the series and she wanted to create someone she would like and not tire of. This is likely part of the cause of the series’ success is the memorable, kind, honest, thoughtful, trustworthy character of Armand Gamache.
Throughout the series, readers appreciate the exemplary character traits of a tough-minded policeman and gentleman.
The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
The bravery, courage, and resiliency of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the most difficult, challenging circumstances always inspires readers like myself. A likable 22-year-old heroine, Emma stealthily and quietly fights back against the Germans who’ve invaded her small Normandy village during WW 11, and she courageously provides the villagers with a bit of sustenance and a taste of hope.
Count Alexander Rostov
Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A true gentleman, the Count is sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life in a Moscow hotel in Russia for a crime he allegedly committed against the government. Through the elegant and exquisite telling of this story, we see an example of living with grace, purpose, meaning, and a bit of wit when life hands you lemons. When life doesn’t go according to plan, how then will you live?
Rahima and Shekiba
The Pearl that Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
Two Afghan women (a century apart) fight for similar women’s rights as they battle powerlessness and customs that suppress women, and fight for some freedom to control their own fates. Their stories remind me of the importance of supporting women (such as Malala in her fight for education) around the world as they fight for basic human rights.
Noa and Astrid
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
Noa and Astrid are two extraordinary women in a traveling circus whose friendship drives this harrowing tale of sacrifice and survival during WW 11.
I’ll always remember them and their courage that symbolizes women throughout history who have made similar decisions and risked their lives for others.
(teenage memorable, inspirational, and unforgettable characters)
Lina and Joana
Between Shades of Gray (Lina) and Salt to the Sea (Joana) (by Ruta Sepetys
In these WW 11 stories that will break your heart, two teenagers face a fight for survival and are placed in positions that are difficult and/or impossible for adults to handle. Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea are both YA (high school and older) reads that are compelling for adults.
I admire the resiliency, strength, bravery, courage, and determination of these characters as they fight for survival. Stories like these always cause me to ponder what I would do in similar circumstances and to admire the human spirit.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
In this page turner, Eve Gardiner joins the fight against the Germans in WW 1 when she unexpectedly is recruited to become a spy and work in the Alice Network.
Her sheer courage is breathtaking and her sacrifice is memorable.
I also enjoyed learning about the female spy system.
(12-year-old memorable characters)
Rill Foss, Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud
Before We Were Yours (Rill) by Lisa Wingate and Refugee (Josef, Isabel, Mahmoud) by Alan Gratz
Several children became memorable and unforgettable characters for me this year. They each are inspirational in their fights for survival and safety and how often they are required to make adult decisions and take on adult responsibilities. Before We Were Yours is adult fiction and Refugee is Middle Grade fiction (compelling as an adult read).
There were so many memorable characters throughout 2017 that I can’t resist mentioning others (I’ve included links to my reviews and Amazon information):
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Because of Christmas activities and a touch of the flu, I have not yet read the book I committed to last week: Woman in Cabin 10 (which is a MUST read for me this week to meet the deadline for my IRL book club). In addition, I really, really want to review a special book that I did read while I was recovering from the flu (I needed an easy reading book), and I can’t wait to tell you about it next week! What are you reading this week?
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Who were your memorable, unforgettable, and inspirational characters of 2017?