Many times I read a book and a week later think-- now what was that one about? Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but the characters just didn’t have that extra oomph that makes them stay with me. Could it be the plot is like every other one or the voice didn’t draw on my emotions? Maybe the setting is not unique or the story didn’t have enough layers? Perhaps the beginning didn’t pull me in or the ending left me unsatisfied? Hmmm…
This made me stop and really think about what makes me fall in love with a novel and why. Of course I want all the above in a story--I’m selfish that way-- but truly the characters have it hands down for me. I need to feel torn for them, know them like my best friend, and cheer for their successes. So what makes them memorable? Hmmm…
It’s different for everyone, but my thoughts are: they have to be a good person with some rotten luck, something I can empathize with. They have to change throughout the story and learn a bit about themselves. The main character has to believe in herself (who wants to listen to a whiney character). And mostly, they have to have honest relationships with the secondary characters.
The ending is the icing on the cake. I always wait for that fantastic ending that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling even after I close the cover. The ones that make me whisper wow. Those characters and their story I know I won’t forget.
“With a good beginning, people will read your story. With a good ending, they’ll remember it!”-- Janet Evanovich.
Some of my favorites are:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A Great and Terrible Beauty series by Libba Bray
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (Not a YA, but still great)
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (I know, I know)
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
What makes a book stand out for you? I’d love to hear your comments. If you don’t know… maybe you should go grab one and start reading. Like you need a reason!
Sara McAlister lives and writes young adult novels in Oklahoma. Find out more about Sara at www.sarameade.blogspot.com