or just confront that one head on cos that political atmosphere is just riveted stereotypes on either side.
Oh, I actually remembered that I have an opinion on this too XD
A big issue I’ve found in books where they tackled subjects like that is that they’re written from the wrong POV, and they’re treating the character as though a part of their identity is a flaw.
Let me explain! (I haven’t actually read that many books on this, they annoy the heck out of me when they’re done wrong. I’ve mostly read middle-grade books about this, so that might actually be part of the problem)
I’ve found it pretty rare that the main character (or POV character) is the “out-of-norm” character. Usually, the main character is pretty “relatable” and ordinary. (More often than not, boring.) And it’s treated as a huge show of ‘good character’ when the MC treats the “out-of-norm” character as they should.
I get that this completely comes down to ‘write what you know’ and that’s totally fine, but that doesn’t mean an “out-of-norm” character can be used as a plot point to demonstrate how good the MC is. It’s usually that the MC is the only person who sides with them, and it might be written in a kind of patronizing way, as though the MC is simply tolerating the character from the goodness of their heart.
Hmm, I’m actually noticing this applies to other areas. I’ve noticed similar things in neurodivergent (Autistic/ADHD/anything like that) and disabled characters.
Now, I’m going to drag an example in. John Flanagan’s “Brotherband, the Outsiders” is actually a really good example. Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore this book! I love it deeply, and I actually love how he added disabled characters (Ingvar was extremely shortsighted, basically legally blind) and for once, the main character was also out of the ordinary. Hal, the MC,’s mother was from a different country, and he was kind of regarded with distrust as ‘not one of us.’ He actually did a very decent job of making the characters kind of diverse in that aspect at least. (There was one single, solitary “sTrONg FeMAle ChaRActeR”, but that’s a rant for another day.)
What really annoyed me was how the characters treated Ingvar. Ingvar was one of my favorite characters, but I constantly felt sorry for him because it felt as though the other characters (and even the author) were talking down on him. Every time he said something it was all like “Yes Ingvar. That’s very clever of you, Ingvar.” And the author observed at least twice that Ingvar was blind, not stupid. Like… obviously!!
Thank goodness, this actually entirely went away during the second book. Ingvar was my favorite character in that book, and it felt as though the other characters were finally accepting, not just tolerating him. He was an active, irreplaceable member of the team.
The other part that bugs me is when authors try to ‘fix’ the characters so they become ‘normal’ (Aka. they take away all defining traits.) Even worse, when becoming normal and rejecting parts of themselves doubles as a cheap character arc. (Looking at you, Hal.)
Hal spent his entire first book trying to prove that he was in fact, a ‘true Skandian.’ Now, I would have enjoyed seeing Hal just accept that he was different and that there’s nothing wrong with that. Instead, he ‘proved himself’ and comfortably threw away everything that made him different. It was kind of disappointing.
For example, once or twice, other characters observed stuff like “Yes, he’s really a Skandian after all,” whenever he did something right. What bugged me is that he took it as a compliment, instead of telling them that “No, I’m not a full Skandian, and I can do this too.” If people only accept you while you’re living up to their imagined standards, then they aren’t accepting you at all.
Now there were some good parts in Hal’s character arc too! There was this one scene where another character shoves him into a stereotype and he gets really annoyed and he’s thinking how much he hates it when someone stereotypes him. That was actually a really good scene. I could totally relate XD
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. If you read that entire thing, I’m impressed XD
To summarize: Differences aren’t flaws.
"Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark." The Tale of Despereaux