“The things that you do should be things that you love, and things that you love should be things that you do.” -Ray Bradbury
Passion is contagious. I love hearing people talk about what they love. I’m sucked into their story, even if they are describing something I didn’t find remotely interesting prior to that moment. This is just as true for me in fiction as it is in real life. I am almost immediately won over by characters in a ruthless pursuit of a passion, whether it manifests in a career aspiration, hobby, vocation or, dare we say, calling. Below are just a few characters and their passions I have enjoyed sharing.
Labors of Love:
Cath– Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a passionate reader and a fan of the fantasy series featuring boy wizard Simon Snow. But Cath isn’t just a fan, she is an active participant in the fandom. As “Magicath,” she writes Simon Snow fanfiction, first with her sister and then on her own. Writing fanfiction serves as an escape when her own life is difficult or lonely, and it’s Cath’s own fan base that, in part, helps her gain the confidence she will need to write original characters that tell her own unique story. Fangirl readers not only get to read Cath’s story throughout the novel, but her own Simon Snow fanfiction as well.
Will and her friends– Will and Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge; Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens
If I had to give an award for the most unique hobbies I have ever encountered in fiction, I would give it to Wilhelmina and her friends. As Will introduces her friends to the reader, one of the first things we find out about each of them is what they are passionate about. Will makes her own lamps mostly out of objects found in her aunt’s antique shop, her friend Autumn practices puppetry, Noel is constantly baking, and his little sister Reece makes up-cycled jewelry. Readers looking for a graphic novel offering some D.I.Y. inspiration need look no further than Will and Whit. One thing I love about Will and her friends’ hobbies is the way they find ways to share them with their community. When Hurricane Whitney sweeps through, causing a town-wide blackout, and leaving locals bored, Will and her friends each contribute their talents to a makeshift arts carnival. With a phobia of the dark and a tragic past, making lamps becomes a way for Will to cope with her fears and, eventually, process and express her emotions.
Nate, the robotics club, and the cheerleaders – Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen, Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks; Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens
Nate is president of the high school’s robotics club, a small but dedicated group, struggling for their school’s meager extracurricular funds. Unfortunately, the school’s cheerleaders are just as dedicated and want the same funding for their cheer uniforms. Though the two groups initially have it out for each other, they become united by their lack of money, and use a cutthroat robotics competition as a last ditch effort to win prize money. My favorite part of this graphic novel is that two groups bond over the fact that they both love what they do, even though what they love couldn’t possibly be more different. Nate and his friends have to deal with stereotypes surrounding what they love, but they fight them with an inspirational vengeance. (Cheerleaders are NOT dumb, and don’t EVER tell a girl that she shouldn’t be into robotics!)
Kami– Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan; Popular Paperbacks Nominee, Best Fiction for Young Adults
Kami’s not old enough to be a professional investigative journalist yet, but that doesn’t stop her from single-handedly running her school newspaper. She’s not afraid to be a little pushy if it means she’ll get a highly sought interview, and when strange things start happening in her small town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, her journalist curiosities cannot be tamed! Main characters are often driven to solve the mystery, if only so that we as readers get to watch them do it. It’s fun to see Kami try to get the scoop, not only for personal reasons, but because she is a journalist and inquiring minds want to know.
Darcy– Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld; Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee
Darcy Patel is living her dream. After cranking out a young adult novel during National Novel Writing Month, she has been signed by a major publishing company and puts off college to do her rewrites in a glamorous apartment in New York City surrounded by like-minded young writers. Afterworlds treats readers to all of Darcy’s excitement in being a writer, but also all of her trepidation. Now that she’s made it, she gets to go on tour and meet other famous authors, but she also has to put in the hard work of doing her rewrites and writing her sequel. The novel alternates between Darcy’s life as a writer and chapters of her unpublished novel. We get to see her struggle with word choice, plot and character development and get to watch her slow realization that pursuing a passion can sometimes be incredibly hard work.
Emi– Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour; Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee
Living in Hollywood, Emi is perfectly positioned to find work as a film set designer. After close readings of a script, she is responsible for adding furniture and wallpaper to a room, as well as all the little details that add to the mood of a scene or make a space someone’s unique home. Emi is so emotionally invested in her job that she is always on the clock. She is always seeking out a perfect prop or knickknack that will make her set complete, and she views everything in her life through the lens of a set designer. When she meets people, she theorizes about what their homes look like. Even when she finds herself falling in love with a young actress, she cannot help but take note of the types of plates she picks to stock her kitchen.
-Emily Childress-Campbell, currently reading The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
3 thoughts on “Contagious Passion: Characters Doing What They Love”
I also enjoyed Victoria’s passion for art in Sharon Biggs Waller’s A Mad, Wicked folly.
I would also recommend Gulledge’s other book, Page by Paige (about a girl passionate about her art), The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen (about a girl who loves to run), and A Time To Dance by Padma Venkatraman (about a dancer).
Thanks for the recommendations! Just bought myself a copy of Page by Paige.
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