Who’s Your Bookish Kindred Spirit?

September 24, 2013 discussion post, K. 2013 44

Why do we read books? From shocking our system to soothing our soul, there could be as many reasons as there are readers. And isn’t that the beauty of literature? It’s so expansive, so flexible, with something different to offer to each person.

But how many of us read to get to know ourselves more? This is probably one of the most personal and revealing posts we’ve yet done. Because here is a list of protagonists we’ve found ourselves mirrored in. These are characters with whom we’ve developed a sense of kinship. For better or worse, these characters have forced us to learn more of who we are. So read them, and see us.

K.’s Kindred Spirits

There are many characters I’ve come to admire, so far are they from me. And then there are those who I feel have stolen my secrets and confessed them to the world. It’s always scary coming across a protagonist who resemble you so much. You’re afraid to read ahead because what if they make your mistakes or fail at your dreams? Would that then be the ending for you, too?

So many writers and yet I find myself encapsulated through a single voice, and through this voice my many sacred parts are given life. Melina Marchetta’s Josie in Looking for Alibrandi and Taylor in Jellicoe Road. To explain why I chose these characters would take an essay but in Josie and Taylor, Marchetta took the deepest most terrifying things about myself and made them okay. 

Josie feels like a foreigner. She lived a double life, constantly in balance between family and the rest of the world. She lived in a place she didn’t feel wanted her there. She had ethnicity but she also had nationality. Her struggle was trying to understand who she was between two clashing cultures. I immigrated to Canada and it took a long time to feel like home. To have my memories ripped from their cages was so intensely nostalgic. It made me understand more of how I felt as a little girl. Marchetta gave that to me.

And Taylor is a similar cry for help as I am. I understood so much of her and that was scary because she is so flawed. What did that say about me? I understood how she yearned for connection but feared to get close. How she threw walls up against people who she wanted inside with her the most. How she was afraid to ask for the things she needed. I hated her sometimes but not too much because then it would’ve meant I hated myself, too.

Tonya’s Kindred Spirits

Anne Shirley – a little bit lost, and a lot earnest, Anne could imagine herself out of (or into, actually) any situation. She was a reader like me, a wanna-be writer like me, and in just like me, in love with the annoying yet charming Gilbert Blythe. I read the Anne books every summer as a child, and I don’t know if I’ve ever found a more kindred spirit than Anne Shirley.
Karou* from Daughter of Smoke and Bone / Days of Blood and Starlight – as you might be able to tell from my gushing reviews, I quite like Laini Taylor’s Smoke and Bone trilogy. I mean… they’re okay. If you like that sort of thing. (AND I DO.) In most respects, I am in awe of Karou’s character, and wholly dissimilar to it–I am neither as brave nor talented as she is, and to be honest, teeth gross me out. But in this line, I felt I recognized a piece of myself in her…
“Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene. But she wasn’t. She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and…cancel her.”
Lola Nolan from Lola and the Boy Next Door – In Lola I recognized so much of my self. The way she tried on different personalities under her wigs and costumes, at once masking and searching for her real self. What teenager (or *cough* adult) hasn’t done that? And I would definitely fall for the gangly awkward boy next door, Cricket. And Max too, actually. Cat
Cath** from Fangirl – I pretty much said it all in my review, but reading Cath’s story was like looking in a mirror in some ways. Taking on the burden of parenting a parent, burying hurt in reading and writing and obsessing over fictional characters, the agonizing awkwardness of social anxiety, and the tendency to hide myself away when I’m uncomfortable. I think Fangirl is the first book to really speak honestly to and about the new generation of teens in the digital (and fanatical) age. 
* art credit to Jim Di Bartolo
** art by foralllove
Wendy’s Kindred Spirits
I see myself in many of my favorite heroines–or was it admiring their qualities that made me want to be like them? Either way, I feel a keen sense of kinship with Anne Shirley and Emily Byrd Starr’s wildly romantic souls, Lyra Belacqua’s fierceness, Jane Eyre’s quiet dignity, Turtle Wexler’s stubbornness, and Harriet M. Welsch’s suspicious nature. 
It’s also kind of funny to me that in 2 1/2 years of using Wendy Darling as my online handle, no one’s ever asked me why I chose it; it is, of course, because she’s the girl who never wanted to grow up…but had to. Quite fitting for someone who never wants to give up reading children’s books.
The character identify most strongly with, however, is probably Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices. I feel her love of literature so deeply, as well as her desire to behave with as much kindness and honor as she knows how–and I know exactly what it’s like to long for something that I can’t have. As much as I love the kickass Rose Hathaways of the world, and as much as I wish I had more of that adventurous, courageous spirit in me, it’s the more introspective heroines who are really my kindred spirits. I understand them perfectly, and therefore their dreams and troubles and aspirations are nearly as urgent to me as my own.
A very telling post, indeed. But also a very nice way to get to know each other, no? So who are your kindred spirits? Which characters remind you of you and why? How does it feel when you find yourself in the pages you’re reading?

44 Responses to “Who’s Your Bookish Kindred Spirit?”

  1. Christina @ Christina Reads YA

    Who makes your banners and can I have that talent please?

    K: agreed, This topic terrifies me a little because of some of the books with protagonists who resemble me a lot.. though admittedly I never think they’ll have the same ending as I do/have/will have? It’s amazing that you’ve related to two of Marchetta’s characters – hers alone, that is, that are your kindred spirits. She’s a remarkable writer, and everything you said about Taylor (I have yet to read about Josie) is what made me really feel for her story, even if she wasn’t a kindred spirit.

    Tonya, YES to Karou. Laini Talyor’s prose made it really easy to find a little piece of myself in her because of how clearly she described those feelings. The quote you chose was one of many that I loved — like the cat quote, and loneliness too, if I’m remembering correctly. I too don’t think I’m as brave as she is either… and as for Lola, even if I haven’t put on different costumes and wigs, I would definitely fall for Cricket if he existed here too :). And I already commented on your Fangirl review – as you said, I think that’s a part of the magic of Fangirl – that honest portrayal of Cath and her tendencies.

    Wendy… Jane Eyre! YES. Also yes to this: “As much as I love the kickass Rose Hathaways of the world, and as much as I wish I had more of that adventurous, courageous spirit in me, it’s the more introspective heroines who are really my kindred spirits.” Honestly, half the reason why I say that I want more extroverted main characters is the opposite of what you’d said – that I understand their dreams etc. but because I’m always thinking about mine, I… don’t want to keep reading about them, I guess. It is really strange that none of us have asked about you using Wendy Darling. I haven’t read Peter Pan, so I thought I wouldn’t understand if you did explain anyway. Also, I think if there’s anything I really appreciated about Cassie’s Infernal Devices series, it’s Tessa. She’s a wonderful character, and it’s easy to see pieces of myself, exactly as you’ve pointed out, in her too.

    Hmmm. I’d like to say my kindred spirit is Lizzie Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I know I used to say that too, but I don’t know if that’s still true. I know that I identified a lot with Terra from North of Beautiful…

  2. Christina

    It’s funny, Wendy. The reason I never asked why you chose Wendy Darling as your handle is that I made a set of assumptions, which are apparently largely accurate. In college, I had a friend we sometimes called Mother Wendy, because she was always up for adventure, but would also make sure everyone got home safe and had tasty food to eat on the way. :) It’s a mix of fun and responsibility.

    Your comments on Tessa Gray are interesting, because I’m reading Clockwork Prince now, and I don’t perceive her the same way you do. Fascinating how that happens, is it not?

  3. readingdate

    It’s so fun getting to know the ladies behind the blog through their literary twin. Your choices rock and make me want to catch up on these books I haven’t read yet.

    Not sure who is my bookish kindred spirit, but probably someone bookish and socially awkward :)

  4. Trish Hannon


    “As much as I love the kickass Rose Hathaways of the world, and as much as I wish I had more of that adventurous, courageous spirit in me, it’s the more introspective heroines who are really my kindred spirits”

    I agree so much with this. I love those snarky, kick ass heroines but never really identify with them. The quieter, bookish ones are the ones who I carry around in my heart with me. They become part of me like Anne Shirley, Jo March (though she isn’t really a quiet one!), CoCo in the Brooklyn Girls and so on.

  5. Mel@Thedailyprophecy

    Finally the reason behind your name Wendy, I loved reading that :)

    I really liked Karou! I would love to have blue hair if I had the guts :p (although I don’t think I could pull it off, but that’s another thing)

  6. Shannelle C.

    I don’t really have one, but I really loved Anne. Her antics were so much fun to read about, and by Anne of the Island, I was shivering with all of those romantic lines.

    And Wendy, gosh, I love the reason why you picked your name! I wish I had actually thought of asking you.

  7. Tanja - Tanychy

    Wendy I never asked you about your name but honestly I assumed that you picked it because of that. I’d pick Peter Pan though (yeah I know I’m a girl but still). Anyhow I see some really amazing picks here from Jane Eyer to Tess. Also Melina for sure knows how to create characters that blow you away. Great picks ladies :)

  8. Lyn Kaye

    Awesome picks – it is always so nice to find someone that could totally be your best friend (or even you) in another life.

    “It’s also kind of funny to me that in 2 1/2 years of using Wendy Darling as my online handle, no one’s ever asked me why I chose it; it is, of course, because she’s the girl who never wanted to grow up…but had to. “

    Well….now I feel just silly. I never questioned it, it just always seemed to fit.

  9. K.

    I’ve heard great things about This Song Will Save Your Life. I’m afraid I might’ve missed it on Netgalley. And Pippi! Of all female characters I wouldn’t have guessed anyone would pick her :) And don’t we all wish we were more kick-ass? ;)

  10. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Love this! And it made me think…both of who I’d like to be like as well as who’s a kindred spirit. I think my kindreds are a cross between Pippi Longstocking (a little crazy, wild hair & klutzy) and Elsie from This Song Will Save Your Life (a little lost, loner, musically obsessed). But I’d like to be more like those kick-ass chicks in my beloved UF books, with plenty of hot men surrounding me. Ah, dreams.

  11. Melanie

    Wonderful post, ladies! This reminds me that I MUST read some contemps by Melina Marchetta because I haven’t yet- but I must say, I love her characters. I can’t really think of any characters on the spot that felt like me in a book but Regina from Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers burned a hole in my heart. I could totally relate to her and understand what she was going through.

  12. Molly Baez

    Enjoyable post girls, and a great reminder on why we read to begin with! I feel a kindred with so many mentioned, especially dear Anne with an E and Ms. L Silver-tongue. But on my good days, however with bad hair, I find myself soulfully connected with the lovely Hermoine Granger. I have the an insatiable girl crush on my heroine of Hogwarts, and recently bought a clutch instantly thinking an extendable curse would be such a handy thing, indeed.

    • Wendy Darling

      Ahhh, a true Dark Materials and Anne fan! I’m actually surprised neither Tonya nor K chose Hermione, they are huge fans of the HP books as well. And you bought a what, now? o.O Apparently I should have read beyond book 3.5….

    • K.

      I didn’t choose Hermione because while I think she’s a saving grace for all young female protagonists, I am unfortunately very different to her. I wish I had her drive and her guts…alas.

  13. Valeria Andrea

    Oh, Tessa Gray would be a lesser kindred spirit for me, but there are details of my self I don’t see on her, obviously.
    My ultimate kindred spirit would be Sidney Sage. From historical & architectural curiosity to coffee addiction, our only difference would be an Adrian… I hope that to change!

    • Wendy Darling

      Wait, you wouldn’t choose someone like Adrian, or you’re still searching for your own Adrian? He is one of my favorite book crushes….

    • K.

      Hmm..now I’d like to read that series just to get to know the characters…except I ended really disliking VA. Except Adrian. I will never understand why he wasn’t the centre of all things.

  14. Keertana

    K, I absolutely adore Marchetta’s heroines! Josie and Taylor are faves, though I think I identify most with Francesca’s nature.

    Tonya, I love Karou, Cath, and Lola! Sadly, I’m not as quirky or creative as they are, which is why I’m more like Anna from Anna and the French Kiss or Jennifer from Attachments. Still, so many of my close friends share the same creative traits, so I wish I was more like that.

    Wendy, I love that you’re so much like Tessa! I think all us book nerds are a little!(; Plus, I love Jane Eyre’s will – I like to think I have some of that in me too!

    For me, my bookish spirits are definitely Fire from Kristin Cashore’s Fire for her simultaneous vulnerability and strength, Jo from Little Women for her quick temper but loyalty, Scarlett from Gone With the Wind for her stubbornness, and Bria from Wanderlove for her courage to open herself up to the world. :) LOVE this post, though, so much! I think it’s one of my favorite topics you ladies chose!<3

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, MAN. Jo from Little Women, of course! I would have put her down too, if I’d thought of it. I’ve always admired her so much, although I WOULD NOT HAVE LET LAURIE GO.

      Still upset.

  15. Diamond Cronen

    Awesome post! What a cool idea. I can’t believe no one ever asked you why you went by Wendy! I totally wanted to ask you, but chickened out. Then, just kinda forgot lol now I know :) I’ll have to think about which characters I most identify with..it’s tough to differentiate between those I know I’m most similar to, and those I aspire to be more like :D

    Dee @ Dee’s Reads

    • Wendy Darling

      Hah, well–you weren’t the only one. :) I thought about my list for a long time too, but in the end had to go with the ones whose personalities are closest to mine.

  16. Sunny Duvall

    This is such a great post because I think about this a lot. I love all of your picks. Cath is a biggie for me because while I’m not THAT bad, I am very similar and I connected with her. I always loved Anne Shirley and she popped in my head (and made me smile) when I saw the title of this post. And I love your reason for the online handle, Wendy, because I can relate as well.
    Fantastic post!

  17. Julie@My5monkeys

    I have never really thought about this til this post. I adore Jane Eyre & Anne Gilbert ..Now I adore katniss & Merit . I always strive to be the strong female and many of them are petite like me LOL

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, Merit and Katniss are SO cool. I love them both, but I don’t know if I’m really that much like them in real life. In my head, yes. In everyday life, no, hah.

    • K.

      I think I wish I’d be more like Katniss rather than think I already am. She’s one heck of a girl. And I am as petite as can be so I always love a strong small girl…like Kami :) I forgot to mention Kami :(

  18. Becca @ Nawanda Files

    Aw, I love Karou! That’s such a great pick :D I love this post too. I’d love to say that I identify myself with Jane Eyre, but it’s possible that I just love Jane so much that I wish I was little more like her. I’m probably most like Claire from Morganville vampires — a little too studious but willing to stand up for good causes.

    • K.

      Do I need to read the Morganville series for this Shane dude? I don’t like missing out on hunks. I think might be a bit like Claire too actually.

  19. Jasprit

    This is once again another great discussion post ladies! I guess I’ve never really considered who my kindred spirits are, but lately there have been so many great characters that I’ve been able to form great connections with such as Lillia from Fire with Fire, like her I found myself in a lot of tough situations when I was younger, always torn between friends, not really knowing which way to go. And then there’s DJ from The Dairy Queen series, whose just such an honest and fun character and Heather from Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells series, who like me always finds herself in trouble when she’s least expecting it! It’s greats seeing some characters on your lists that I actually know, but I will also have to check the rest out too!

    • Wendy Darling

      I LOVE DJ from Dairy Queen! I just found out about her new book that features her little brother (as the love interest, I’m assuming?), definitely need toread taht soon.

    • K.

      Yikes! I haven’t read any of those! Isn’t it great when you see different aspects of yourself in books you read?

  20. Savannah Bookswithbite

    This is a great post. I do find myself connecting with characters. One characters I really connected to is Angel from Redeeming Love. *sigh* That is my life in a nutshell. At first when I met my husband I was just like Angel. Bitter, angry, afraid and most all determined to never let a man own me again. It takes a strong man to handle a broken woman and little by little my husband helped me to where I ma today. I do go back and re-read that book often. Not only to reflect but to remind myself that I do not have to go back. That I am free and happy. Sorry for the very personal comment. But this is why I read. To escape and connect with other characters who struggle just like I did.

    • Wendy Darling

      Personal comments are our favorite kind! I haven’t read Redeeming Love yet, but it sounds like I need to give that a shot, Savy. Connecting with characters is one of the best parts of reading books.

    • K.

      That’s a beautiful gift the book gave you. Its always nice to connect to a character thru unpleasant circumstances but then be reminded of how far you’ve come. Thank you for this.

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