This post was inspired by WordPress’ Daily Prompt ‘It Builds Character’.
I have already accidentally deleted this entire post twice because of strange things that the new interface does. I am unimpressed to say the least. So I will now write this in Word and copy paste 🙂
When I think back on characters that have had an effect on me, there is one in particular which stands out as being integral to the person I have become.
When I was young (prepubescent young), I was already aware that I was different from most of the other girls in the class. Whilst they were obsessed with ‘The Baby Sitters Club’ and ‘Sweet Valley High’ (both of which I read and enjoyed, but mainly they just gave me numbers for the read-a-thon each year) I was off reading ‘Matilda’ and authors like R.L Stine (not the Goosebumps books, the advanced stuff) and Tamora Pierce. I had great access to YA novels because my Mum was a Teacher Librarian at a High School.
Other girls my age wanted to play makeovers and weddings and I wanted to ride bikes and run through the bush. The girls I knew made games of imagining their weddings to a member of the Backstreet Boys or Hanson whilst I danced about the house singing to the score of ‘The Pirates of Penzance’.
Jo March from ‘Little Women’ was a trailblazer, in a time where it wasn’t proper for women to run through the woods, traipse about through brooks without shoes, yell out to or play with boys or write epic novels she did it all and everyone who mattered accepted her and loved her for who she was. Everything about this girl/woman appealed to me. It would be fair to say that as a young girl my biggest dream was to grow up to be Jo March. She was a hero to me. To this day she remains one of my favourite literary characters. In fact Jo March is probably the reason I have the guts to write online.
Jo also appealed to me because of her love of the written word and her strength of character and independence. You have probably noticed from my reviews of my books for 52 Books in 52 Weeks that I have a thing for strong female characters that shuck the norm and stereotypes. I still believe that this love of certain qualities in this character made me try to develop those characteristics in myself. As soon as I was old enough to work (14) I got an after school job. This made me feel amazing because I didn’t have to ask my mother to buy me things like deodorant and tampons (you have no idea how amazing it was as a 14 year old to not rely on someone else for your tampon stash!), this was my first step to real independence and I liked it. I saved my money from my job and when I graduated I paid my own way on a holiday with my friends, that is a pretty huge thing for an 18 year old to be able to do. Then when I was 19 I moved interstate to the desert, yup I moved to Ayers Rock, it was arid, hot, confronting and I was pretty innocent at the time (I hardened up quick though – read more about that here), I had no safety net there. I knew no one. It was the bravest and most awesome thing I think I have done. It was an amazing experience and I am so glad I did it to this day!
I believe I have a lot to thank Jo March for. I have previously written about my love of both the book and movie and after reading back over this post I realise how big an impact my love of this character has had on me. As far as role models go I am pretty proud that she has been and continues to be mine.