Tag Archives: Identity

Identifying with characters in stories

As a young girl and woman (and even now) it was difficult to find female characters that I could identify with. I am white, nerdy, Asperger (although I did not know this at that time) and Norwegian. As time passed more female characters entered the scene, but their roles were often romantic seconds. Not until the last few years have great female characters become more common. Finding characters that you can identify with if you belong to any female minority must be extremely difficult. Perhaps especially in a society as misogynistic as the US.

Along comes Marley Dias who is 11 years old. This amazing girl manages to launch a book-collection campaign focusing on books with black girls as main characters. I would never have dared, or even come up with, such a thing when I was 11. How can I do anything but look up to such a wonderful person?

Marley Dias, 11, Launches Social Action Campaign to Collect #1000BlackGirlBooks

Marley Dias Book Drive 1,000 Black Girl Books
11 year-old Marley Dias at Lingelbach Elementary School in Germantown, collecting books as part of her #1000BlackGirlBooks social action project. (JANICE DIAS/FOR PHILLYVOICE)

In the past year, Philadelphia native Marley Dias has successfully written a proposal for (and received) a Disney Friends for Change grant, served food to orphans in Ghana and recently launched a book club.

Dias is 11 years old.

“I’m hoping to show that other girls can do this as well,” Dias told PhillyVoice. “I used the resources I was given, and I want people to pass that down and use the things they’re given to create more social action projects — and do it just for fun, and not make it feel like a chore.”

Dias’ latest social action project is the #1000BlackGirlBooks book drive. Frustrated with many of the books she’s assigned in school, she confessed to her mother during dinner one night that she was unhappy with how monochromatic so many stories felt.

“I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” Dias said, pointing specifically to “Where the Red Fern Grows” and the “Shiloh” series. “‘What are you going to do about it?’ [my mom] asked. And I told her I was going to start a book drive, and a specific book drive, where black girls are the main characters in the book and not background characters or minor characters.” ………….

The rest of the article may be read on Good Black News

Bertauski, Tony: The Legend of Socket Greeny (Socket Greeny III) (2010)

I bawled. Yes, I bawled at the conclusion of the Socket Greeny saga. I even sent the author a text stating that he had made me bawl.

Everything is a lie.

Socket, Chute and Streeter are young for the kind of lives they live. Socket has to take on more responsibilities in being a symbol for the Paladin Nation. But being seen as a super-hero isn’t that big of a deal for a teenager who would rather be with his friends. Unfortunately, being seen as a super-hero is a label Socket isn’t getting away from any time soon.

Socket’s super-hero status came from being able to distinguish reality from lies. Except, what do you do when you discover that the things you thought you knew about yourself are wrong? Everything you have been told is a lie. How do you then keep yourself transcended? With age I have discovered that most things we are told about the world and ourselves are false to one degree or another. For Socket this discovery comes abruptly and at a time when he thought life was finally looking up.

Yet, Socket keeps on going. Then serious trouble comes his way. Where does the line between human and artificial intelligence go? Could an AI become truly human? Bertauski asks this question, and it is one that researchers and laypeople have asked themselves a great many times. I find myself not really caring. Perhaps that is because autists have been and still are considered as less than human. Not that I believe for a second that autists would be more welcoming of AI’s than allistics. Not at all. But I wonder if I might?

Poor Socket Greeny. He is in for “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and the pain that goes with that. Socket is also in for a whole lot of action and difficult choices. Not only the lies told to him by others will have to be faced but also the lies told to him by himself. Personally, I find those the most difficult ones to deal with. Somehow, being honest with myself is much more painful than being honest with others. But that honesty offers growth. Growth that aids Socket Greeny as he fights for survival against the terrifying creatures he encounters.

Definitely recommended. This is a serial, which means you will need to read the previous ones to understand The Legend of Socket Greeny.


Reviews:


The Legend of Socket Greeny available on Amazon US and Audible


My review of:

  1. The Discovery of Socket Greeny
  2. The Training of Socket Greeny

Bertauski, Tony: The Training of Socket Greeny (The Legend of Socket Greeny II) (2010)

To me The Training of Socket Greeny is, like The Discovery of Socket Greeny, about identity. But it is also very much about seeing things as they are. You know, seeing through the bullshit of the propaganda we are fed, and seeing through our expectations into reality. Which is kind of odd to me as much of the book happens in Virtual Reality (no, not for real).

And what a VR it is. Poor Socket draws out new abilities, but the cost of his new abilities is high. His trainer, Pon, puts him through a program that is enough to kill anyone. This is where VR is a good thing. Except some of the damage Socket sustains is real and he has to learn to transcend it. In fact, it seems as if that is what his training is about: transcending himself. Socket doesn’t understand what that entails and I am going to admit that I don’t either. Because how do we let go of our fears. In a sense, they are kind of comforting because we don’t have to think so much about what is going on. But there is a part of me that would love to be able to set them aside.

Socket also has to figure out if transcending himself means that he has to leave his old life and his old friends behind. When do we reach the point of not being able to give any more? Lots and lots of existential questions are being asked throughout the trilogy, questions that we sometimes forget to ask as we grow older. However, these are questions that a lot of youth ask themselves.

It wouldn’t be a Bertauski story if there wasn’t a lot of action thrown in with the deeper story. The action is excellent and probably too violent for some of you. There are also romantic bits.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


My review of The Discovery of Socket Greeny


The Training of Socket Greeny available on Audible, Amazon

 

Bertauski, Tony: The Discovery of Socket Greeny (The Legend of Socket Greeny I) (2010)

Sixteen years old and ripped away from all that was familiar into a new world where his whole identity needs to be re-discovered is pretty much what The Discovery of Socket Greeny was about for me.

My son is doing a paper on tourism, and in it he mentions the possibility of replacing our corporeal experiences with virtual reality ones. In the life of Socket Greeny and his friends technology has gotten to a point where this is possible. Teaching is done this way. Although the students come to a physical school and sit in classrooms with a teacher present, most of the teaching is done in VR rooms. Gaming takes on new meaning when you get to integrate yourself so fully into the experience.

But when Socket Greeny is taken from his friends he discovers that such immersion brings its own hazards, and that he is one of the tools needed to fight the dangers of the virtual world. The world he enters is brutal. His tests are intense. I suppose people who have gone through training as CIA spies would recognize the horrible invasiveness of it all. Yet Socket endures.

Much of that endurance is due to his friend Spindle. Spindle is always there for Socket. His patience and kindness is limitless. One might almost be tempted to think that he was programmed to be that way. And perhaps he was. But then again maybe not.

I am thrilled not to be Socket Greeny, but I am thankful for having met him and his unusual world. Definitely recommended.

—————————————————-

Reviews:


The Discovery of Socket Greeny available on Amazon US

Autistic as a Reclaimed Word

What are my thoughts on reclaiming the word autistic for myself? In many ways autism is a word, but words have power. Perhaps this means that I have to come out of my autism closet and decide how I am going to define autism rather than letting the word define me.

Musings of an Aspie

Most adults on the spectrum prefer to be called autistic, rather than a person with autism or a person who has autism. The general consensus is that autism is not a separable entity. To be “with” something or to “have” something implies that we might somehow be able to rid ourselves of that thing and still be the same person, much like someone who has been cured of a physical illness.

I have always been autistic and always will be. If I was not autistic, I would be a completely different person. My autistic neurology affects how I experience the world and how the world experiences me. I am autistic. This feels very simple and logical to me.

It is not, however, always as simple for others. I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the autism community (which is different from the Autistic community) find the use…

View original post 448 more words

Asperger’s Syndrome – Removed in theory but not in practice……

Parallells my thinking.

Hartman, Rachel: Seraphina (2012)

seraphina complete

There are tons of reviews of Seraphina out there. Seriously, tons. Most of them praise Rachel Hartman’s writing to heaven and with good reason. Believe it or not, this is actually Hartman’s first novel. Her grasp of the flow is amazing. This is definitely an author to follow.

What genre is this? Well, that is a toughie. Like The Intergalactic Academy blog points out in their review, there are reasons one might suspect the world of Seraphina lies not only in a fantasy universe but also in a science fiction one. You would be surprised at the number of stories out there that seem to be fantasy (and are) but end up having a basis in humans having come to another world.

One of the traditional conflicts between humans and dragons in Seraphina has to do with humans invading the continent of the dragons. This might be one hint as to the otherworldliness of humans. The other is as TIA points out some of the vocabulary.

How the wars began in the first place is not commonly known, but as Seraphina is lucky enough to have a dragon music teacher (Omra) she learns of these matters. That her father happens to be the local expert on the treaty between humans and dragons has given Seraphina more knowledge than the usual citizen. There is a reason for her father’s expertise. He is the father of a girl who is half-dragon/half-human. Seraphina’s mixed race must be hidden from the knowledge of both dragons and humans as such a relationship is thought of as disgusting. But it is interesting that such a relationship is even possible. Perhaps that means that a dragon’s transformation into human is on a genetic level.

When peace was forged, one of the consequences was that dragons could no longer be among humans in dragon form. Dragons society seems to be ruled by logic rather than emotion. To them becoming human is a shock to the system as they are drenched in feelings they do not understand. Emotions are forbidden and all memories pertaining to such emotions are excised upon returning to dragon form. Such excision could mean that the dragons have some form of advanced technology unless the excision happens through some kind of paranormal ability.

Seraphina’s mother took human form and fell in love with Seraphina’s father. Seraphina was the result of that match. Sadly, Seraphina’s mother died at child-birth. Child-birth is the time her father discovered that Seraphina’s mother was a dragon. This has to do with the color of dragon’s blood. Seraphina herself showed no sign of the match until puberty. At that time she gained scales on parts of her body and a gigantic degree of self-disgust. In fact, her disgust ended up being so strong it led to self-harm. I have absolutely no trouble understanding why the self-harming happened. When one’s difference is so readily identifiable, the temptation to remove it must be staggering.

There are some positive factors in Seraphina’s life. Her music teacher Omra has stuck with her since her dragonhood was revealed. With him she does not have to fear revealing her forbidden race. As I said earlier, Omra is Seraphina’s music teacher. When Seraphina showed the same kind of talent her mother had had, Seraphina was permitted lessons if they were held out of sight of her father. Music has led her to the position she now holds – as the assistant to the court composer.

Seraphina is our protagonist. An excellent protagonist. She has depth and character in a way that only the British can manage to convey. Understatement seems to be something the Brits get through their mother’s milk. Hartman attacks a great deal of society’s crueller sides gently and with enough of a sting that the reader feels it. (I feel it) Such writers are a miracle to me, something I can admire yet never aspire to be.


Reviews: