Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books Which Feature Characters Who Defy Their Parents'.


So there are a  fair amount of people who go through the 'my parents are wrong about everything' stage in their lives. This normally happens in their teenage years when they begin to feel they are becoming adults, with their own opinions and thoughts on what they should be allowed to feel and do. It's a common trope in books too, though fiction normally means that the consequences can be a lot more disastrous than in a real-life setting. Sometimes, as a reader, I root for the character who rebels against them  because it is clear they are wrong/being overly protective/not very nice. Sometimes I put my head in my hands and watch in horror as the headstrong hero dives into something they don't understand. Whatever the plot is however, these are some of the best examples I can think of.

1) 'Matilda'; Roald Dahl.

This is possibly one of the best examples of a book in which you want the child to disobey her parents. On the surface, 'Matilda' is a very funny and sweet children's story. Underneath however, it actually follows some very dark themes. The Wormwoods often neglect and abuse the young girl, her Father constantly shouting at her and her Mother ignoring her. They tell her that TV is the way forward and she's not allowed to read books. Fortunately, Matilda takes it upon herself not only to ignore her parents' wishes, but to ultimately seek a form of revenge in the form of practical jokes.

2) The 'Harry Potter' Series; J.K. Rowling.

'Matilda' isn't the only book that features some very unsatisfactory parenting skills. The Dursleys are not Harry's real parents, they are in fact his Aunt and Uncle. Since the death of his parents, Harry is forced into their care and let me tell you, they are not pleased about it. Thanks to this, Harry is forced to undergo possibly one of the most miserable childhoods in book history. Luckily, when magic comes into his life, it gives him a chance to fight back, and watching the Dursleys suffer is immensely satisfying.

3) 'Alanna: The First Adventure'; Tamora Pierce.

This book is such a great example of children defying their parents (or in this case, Father's) wishes from the outset, and in doing so, unveiling a great destiny. Alanna and Thom are both identical Twins, though one girl and one boy. Alanna is to be sent to the Temple to learn to become a lady, and Thom is being sent to the Palace to be a Knight. However, in an attempt to do the things they love, Alanna dresses as a boy so that she can do as Thom was going to, and Thom goes to the Temple where young boys are taught to be Magicians. The great thing about this book is that as a reader, I would constantly reflect upon what would have happened if they had gone to where they were supposed to go. Life would probably have been a whole lot more boring!

4) 'Pride & Prejudice'; Jane Austen.

This is defying the expectations of a parent in a very different way than previously discussed. In the typical values of the time, Lizzie Bennett's mother (though well meaning) wants her daughters to marry into rich families. The more wealthy, the better, and she will do what she can to secure the future of her family. The problem is, her children don't necessarily have the same designs. The heroine, Lizzie, is all but pushed into accepting a marriage with Mr. Collins, and yet she chooses not to (which directly defies her Mother's wishes). Lydia too proves to be a disappointment when she runs off with the villainous Mr. Wickham and brings shame upon the household as a result.

5) 'It'; Stephen King.

This book is absolutely full of children choosing not to listen to their parents. Due to the fact that there is an evil child-killing monster on the loose however, it only serves as a terrifying plot device. The best example is probably Eddie Kaspbrak, whose Mother is a hypochondriac and is far too concerned over Eddie's health. Convinced that he is ill with almost every condition under the sun, she doesn't like him to have friends or play outside. As the book progresses, Eddie begins to learn he's much stronger than his mother thinks he is and defies her openly. Bill Denbrough too has much conflict with his parents who are unable to get over his younger brother Georgie's death, and Beverly Marsh's Father constantly threatens to beat her senseless if she doesn't obey him. One of the best moments in the book is watching them get braver and face their individual threats, as well as the monster.

6) 'The Invention Of Wings'; Sue Monk Kidd.

A young, white-skinned girl takes a big risk when she defies her parent's (and society's) views and opinions on the black community by teaching her young slave 'Handful' how to read. Based on the true story of the Grimke sisters, this is one of the most satisfying stories when it comes to disobeying parents. As well as dealing with racism and slavery, it also deals with sexism as Sarah's father repeatedly points out that Sarah would have been a great Lawyer if she had been a man. When she expresses an interest to pursue this Father, he almost laughs in her face and points out that she had not actually been born a man.

7) 'A Certain Slant Of Light'; Laura Whitcomb.

Now this book is not about defying parents in the conventional sense, because the young teens that feature in the book are not actually themselves, but are possessed by two very well-meaning ghosts. It was interesting watching the ghosts try to adapt to  their new lives, and very quickly realise what they were dealing with. In Helen's instance, she is trapped inside the body of Jenny, the daughter of two deeply religious parents. I loved this book for so many reasons, and really rooted for Helen finding the courage to stand up to her overly protective Mother and hypocritical, strict Father on behalf of Jenny's lost soul.

8) 'Coraline'; Neil Gaiman.

The main theme of 'Coraline' is her struggle against her very busy, slightly neglectful parents who clearly love her very much but have a lot on their hands. As a child, Coraline doesn't understand the lack of attention and goes hunting for it elsewhere. She stumbles upon it in the from of her 'other' parents, but soon finds she is dealing with a malignant force intent on devouring her soul. It is these parents I enjoyed watching her battle against.

9) 'The Winner's Curse'; Marie Rutkoski.

This book is an interesting one because it's more about Kestrel's inner battle regarding her Father's wishes than it is about outwardly defying him. There's a lot of great moments between the two characters where they don't really know how to act around each other, and ow to make each other happy. Parental relationships are a central theme to the story, so I included it in this list because Kestrel's actions, while not directly defying her Father, are a rebellion against his wishes and expectations.

10) The 'A Song Of Ice & Fire' Series; George R.R. Martin.

It's no great secret that I adore this series. There are a lot of very interesting characters and story-lines. Some of the most tragic come from a child defying their parents. Brandon stark is the most notable and literal example I feel. He is told he should stop climbing by his Mother and chooses not to listen to her. As a result, he is witness to something that he should not have seen, and pushed out of the window so that it looks like he has fallen. Catelyn Stark, mother of five children, often talks about her battles to get her children to heed her counsel and the disastrous consequences. Tyrion Lannister is at a continuous war with his Father who ignores and undermines him all the time. The book is full to the brim of rebellious children, no matter how old they are.