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May 16, 2017

Giving a Voice to Female Characters --- Guest Post by Kelley York, Co-Author of OTHER BREAKABLE THINGS


In OTHER BREAKABLE THINGS, a new young adult title from wife and wife writing duo Kelley York and Rowan Altwood, teenage Luc Argent is ready to end his life after learning that his heart transplant is failing. Sick of hospitals and transplants, Luc decides to head to Oregon, where death with dignity is legal. But his best friend, Evelyn, is not giving up so easily. Determined to change his mind and slowly falling for him, Evelyn will do whatever it takes to change Luc's mind. In this post, author Kelley York expands upon Evelyn's character arc, and shows readers how she finally makes her voice heard.

While OTHER BREAKABLE THINGS revolves largely around Luc and his illness, Evelyn’s character arc is quieter, perhaps subtler, but not to be ignored.

Evelyn starts out as a very quiet girl who’s prone to doing things a lot of girls are doing because we’re expected to. We say “I’m fine” when we’re not. We bite back our emotions out of fear of not being taken seriously, or fear of being viewed as too sensitive. We shouldn’t express our anger, shouldn’t yell, shouldn’t be in the way. Evelyn, even if subconsciously, does all of these things at a great cost to her own emotional and mental well-being.

I didn’t only want to focus on Luc and Evelyn’s relationship in the book even though it’s important, but about Evelyn and her mother’s, and even Evelyn with her own sense of self. She does a lot of growth from beginning to end, and while some of it can be attributed to Luc (just as his growth can be attributed to Evelyn), a lot of it she honestly goes through all on her own. She has to realize she has a voice. She has to realize that voice is important. She has to realize that she is important.

Young adult fiction is, I feel, lacking sometimes in giving us girls with voices we need to hear. A female doesn’t have to be cold and distant and sarcastic to be strong. She doesn’t have to be given all the stereotypical traits society tells us are “masculine.” I call BS on that. Our personalities come in as many forms as there are colors, and we all have our strengths and our weaknesses…but having feelings and letting the be known is not one of them. That’s a strength through and through.

I think Evelyn has a bit of a breaking point in the book --- and I won’t go into details because…well, spoilers. But she hits a wall that she just can’t get over until she lets out that pent-up anger and resentment and really voices how she feels, really makes it known that she’s hurting and, damn it, that matters. She brings the spotlight onto herself for the first time, as we all should from time to time, and she makes herself heard.

And I think that is so, so very important. All of us have our voices, and we’re all important enough to deserve being heard no matter who tries to silence us.