When I disappear into a book it is usually because a character enchants me. Not with a magical spell, but with their sense of humor, their ingenuity or their perseverance. Through space travel, romance or covered wagon adventures, I want main characters who are inspiring and exciting.
One of my favorites is ‘Rachel’ in Alan Brennert’s MOLOKA’I. Set in Hawaii, Rachel is just 7 years old when her leprosy is discovered and she is extracted from her family and then quarantined on the island of Moloka’i. She and the other lepers take care of each other as they face death, poverty and isolation, and slowly their friendships become stronger than she had with any family she left behind. In the worst of circumstances, quarantined and nearly forgotten, on a remote island during WWII, Rachel remains strong and hopeful throughout the many setbacks the islanders encounter.
For completely opposite reasons, another unforgettable character is ‘Sean Coleman’ in FROM A DEAD SLEEP by John A. Daly. While most main characters have quality temperaments, Sean is the town drunk. He’s angry, disrespected and self-absorbed. And that’s why when he witnesses a strange suicide, no one in town believes him. Through deceit and untrained perseverance (and beer burps) he tries to figure out who is responsible for the mysterious body in the river in this page-turning thriller. And with all these character’s flaws, I found myself completely rooting for him!
Margaret Lukas (author of FARTHEST HOUSE) says, “My favorite character has to be ‘Sethe’ from BELOVED by Toni Morrison. I can’t think of another character who endured as much physical and emotional abuse and yet kept going. So many times, she nearly lost her way; she didn’t always act in ways she was proud of; but she struggled to believe in herself even with the whole town turned against her. She endured one more thing, one more day, and in the end, that faith in tomorrow and people rewarded her.”
Howard Faber (author of A FAR AWAY HOME) says, “One of my favorite characters is ‘Louis’ the swan in E. B. White’s THE SECRET OF THE SWAN. First, I like Louis because he’s wonderfully imaginative; imagine a Trumpeter Swan who can’t make any sounds but learns to play the trumpet and perform beautifully with it. Second, he, quite human-like, falls hopelessly in love and in the end wins her heart. Third, he learns to read and write like a proper author and would, if alive in our times, likely carry around a smart phone instead of a slate and chalk.”
Now we all want to know, who is your favorite character and why?