Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at Gingerreadslainey. Every week, book reviewers all over the world are given a bookish topic and respond with their top 5 books (or elements of books) that relate to that topic. Click here for the Goodreads group if you would like to learn more about Top 5 Wednesday and join in!
This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is your top five favorite diverse characters. These can be characters that are diverse in race, in sexual orientation, who have disabilities or are struggling with mental illness, etc. Basically, any character that is not seen as often as the typical straight, white, mentally and physically healthy male or female characters that too frequently take center stage in literature.
Having books filled with diverse characters, particularly main characters, is essential because that more accurately reflects the incredibly diverse world that we live in. Every single person in this world is different from each other in some way; no two people are the same. That is something that should be celebrated and represented throughout all literature, but unfortunately, ends up being something that many books out there lack. Thankfully, we are starting to see an increase in character diversity in literature these days.
For my list, I tried to mix things up and pick characters that are each diverse for different reasons. These characters also play important roles in the novels they are from. Here are five of my favorites!
- Arthur “Boo” Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Diversity: Mental Illness
To Kill a Mockingbird is filled with diverse characters because diversity and the acceptance (or lack thereof) of that diversity is one of the main themes in the novel. Though there are a number of people that would fit into this list, I decided to go with Boo Radley for an example of a character struggling with mental illness. Due to a childhood of being tormented by his father, Boo has become a recluse, never being seen outside his house. But in the end, he proves to be a kind soul and a true hero despite the toll life has taken on his mind.
- Tyrion Lannister from A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Diversity: Genetic Condition
This is a bit of a cheat for me since I’ve actually not yet read A Game of Thrones, but I do watch the show and Tyrion is one of my absolute favorite characters. He is an intelligent man with a sharp mind and an equally sharp wit. This is another book with a sizable amount of diverse characters, but he is one that definitely stands out among the rest. Tyrion is a dwarf, so he is a great example of a diverse character with a physical, genetic condition.
- June Iparis from Legend by Marie Lu
Those of you who have read Legend already know what a fantastic and tough character June is. Her incredibly intelligent and attentive mind, strength, and selflessness make her an intriguing, lovable, and kickass heroine. June is a diverse character because she is described as being of mixed ethnicity (Caucasian/Native American).
- Cinder from Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer
After reading this book a few months ago, I have completely fallen in love with Cinder and her story. She falls into the category of diverse characters for a few reasons. Cinder is a cyborg (which in itself is fairly diverse) living in a society that looks down on and harshly discriminates against them. She is also ethnically diverse because, as Marissa Meyer describes her, she is of mixed ethnicity (Asian/Caucasian). The entire novel takes place in a fictionalized version of China, so there is a fair amount of character diversity in general throughout this book.
- Aristotle and Dante from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Diversity: Ethnicity/Sexual Orientation
I just recently read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Ari and Dante have quickly risen up my list of top favorite characters; I couldn’t pick one over the other, so I decided to go with both of them. They both fall into the category of ethnically diverse characters because they are both Mexican. They are also both gay, so they are diverse characters due to their sexual orientations as well.
Which diverse characters are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!