Recently I finished the novel She’s Too Pretty To Burn, by Wendy Heard. I originally picked it up because of the engaging cover and purchased it based on the inside cover description, but it became more intriguing to me as I started to actually read it. It included many twists and turns, red herrings, and events that surprised me, especially considering the detailed and ominous synopsis I read as a precursor. However, one of the aspects of the novel that I found most intriguing and unusual to me was the nature of the relationships between the characters. The book follows a same-sex couple throughout the twisting plot, which is something I have never had the pleasure to read about.
Mick (short for Micaela) and Veronica went through quite a lot both together and individually, and through their experiences, I was able to better understand how their relationship worked. Normally when I read fiction that centers around romance, I tend to go for straight couples as their stories best match my own and I can better relate to them. However, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed watching Veronica and Mick’s relationship form almost more than any other fictional couple I’ve read about because I could sympathize with both characters. There was even a point in the story that hinted at Veronica’s best friend (male) having an interest in Mick, but the way that the story was written, I was not rooting for him. It’s safe to say none of the other characters were either.
This is important to note because these characters do not fit the widely accepted straight standard in fiction, and they were more interesting and compelling to me. This is partly because of the author’s specific creation, but I think any work of fiction or even nonfiction that has diverse characters can be eye-opening to any reader. I am not just referring to the token characters or tropes that writers may feel the need to fulfill, but also the complex characters who are diverse simply because it’s who they are. I would love to get behind a push for stories with characters of every member of the LGBTQ+ community, or assuming many of those novels have already been published, a push for awareness that the novels exist, and a willingness to read something new with characters one may not necessarily align with.
So I encourage you to read more novels, poetry, prose, or other forms of literature that include characters that are different from you. You may find that you understand different perspectives quite nicely, and you might learn something about yourself and others.