Monday, July 27, 2015

I Can Still See the Stars: The Fault in Our Stars Book and Movie

First love.  We've all experienced it at some point in our lives.  The only question is, do we still think we can have that innocent first love feeling, even after our hearts have been stepped on perhaps several times.  In all honesty, if you had asked me a week ago, I would have said no, for a lot of reasons.  However, the movie The Fault in Our Stars convinced me that it is indeed possible.  I love the movie and the book, not only from an aesthetic perspective, but also from a scholarly standpoint.  There are many books that deal with the nontraditional embodiment of adolescent characters, but it is not as typical of realistic fiction. I tend to see it more so with fantasy/sci-fi YA and with graphica novels/comics. 
       The Fault in Our Stars, however, is a book of the realistic fiction that presents the love story of two nontraditional teens, both in terms of their embodiment and their intellectual levels. The book and the accompanying movie depict two teenagers with nontraditional embodiments, as a result of their respective struggles with cancer. As the story progresses, we see their ability to love each other not so much in spite of their bodies, but because of them. Their embodiments and illnesses have caused both characters to have struggles that most people don't experience until much later in life, which is part of why the two connect.  As a person who had reconstructive jaw surgery at the age of 15, I can relate, and I wish I had found someone at that time my life who had experienced and overcome a similar struggle.     
     Both Hazel Grace and Augustus are intellectually advanced for their age, which is another reason I found their story touching.  It wasn't until later in high school, through the KMWP Summer Honors Writing Program and Governor's Honors Program, that I met friends who I truly felt I could relate to.  Through those experiences, I became more self-confident and, therefore, learned how to flirt and even to date, at least a little.  Therefore, I loved watching the same metamorphosis of these two characters.  I hope more books of realistic fiction are published about the love stories of nontraditional teens. John Green, Rainbow Rowell, and David Levithan have paved the way.  I hope that other writers, including myself, can eventually tread this path that these three talented artists have established ever so well.  

(Originally posted on 6/6/2014 on 

Female Representation in Comics

This year, at Dragoncon, I am dressing as Wonder Woman.

     Part of this decision stems from the idea that I look just enough like Wonder Woman to be able to pull her off.  Over the past few years, I have tended to fall back on the same female heroes: Hermione from Harry Potter, Katniss from The Hunger Games,  and Rainbow Brite, the symbol of my eighties youth.  This year, I also plan to add Kayleigh from Firefly to my cosplay repertoire.  When I have more money and time, I want to have a costume designed for me to be Margaery Tyrell from Game of Thrones.
    As someone who is falling even more in love with the comic/graphica genre, I really wanted to cosplay as a female superhero.  The good news is, I was able to find a Wonder Woman costume that is my size and that is attractive without being overly revealing.  The bad news is, I could not think of any other female superheroes to emulate.
    On a positive note, through the Red Clay Writing Project and through my Language and Literacy department, I am surrounded by critical thinkers who have also noticed this trend and who would like to see it changed.  Last week, in the Graphic Literature Open Institute, Eric (the Instructor) told us about Kelly Sue Deconnick, a writer who Marvel recently hired and who is writing more superhero stories with female protagonists.  I also learned that there's a Captain Marvel series that features a female Captain Marvel.

    Therefore, strides are being made in the right direction, but I would like to see even more made.  If I do have a daughter of my own one day, I want her to be able to choose from an assortment of strong female protagonists and heroes.  Hermione and Katniss are a good beginning, but we need more, especially outside of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre.
     Also, on a positive note, the graphic novel Darkroom by Lila Quintero Weaver features a female protagonist who is both likable and strong.  As more historical fiction graphic memoirs are published with strong female protagonists, perhaps this trend will continue to grow both in the graphica genre and the realistic fiction genre.

(Originally posted on on 6/18/14)