Bookish Wishes Of An ‘Atypical’ Girl #1

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Hello everyone!

Today’s post will be a little personal, because I’ll be reflecting on some representations I wish I could see more of in books, and some of these wishes are very personal.

This post has been sitting in my drafts for a while, specifically since November last year, waiting to be written, but for some reason I just couldn’t write it out. So I guess I’m kind of proud to finally get it done.

Over years of reading books, with the exception of books published in my country —and even here, I don’t seem to fit right —, I’ve noticed that there seem to be a normal type of character, a typical character. White, Christian, abled, neurotypical, cishet, everything I am not as a Black, Muslim, neurodivergent, queer teenager with chronic pain and a speech disorder; and it leaves me feeling a little alien, different, atypical. Hence, the name of this short series.

This series, which like I said before is likely to be really short, will just be a list of the representation I wish to see both for myself and for others.

This series, while being really important to me, will be not be just about me, but also about other atypical identities.


1. Stuttering and Other Speech Disorders.

I didn’t start stuttering until the age of nine. According to my mum, I was the only one of my siblings that didn’t stutter from the very beginning, so it was strange when it came. And since then it hasn’t left and I guess if I’m being truthful, I haven’t been patient enough to seriously try to correct it. My kind of stuttering isn’t the simple breaking in words, or feeling like they’re stuck somewhere in my throat and not just willing to come out. No, it’s that and the annoying way, my sentences come out jumbled sometimes. Like someone pushed all the words out of me and I have never seen a character like me in a book.

The first time I read a character with a stutter, and perhaps the only one I have read yet, the his stutter wasn’t the same as mine, but it warmed my heart so much I thought I could cry. He was a side character, an annoying one in fact, but reading about him; finally reading a character that didn’t have a smooth speech pattern, a character who wasn’t taken seriously because of the way he spoke, a character not secure in his own voice made me so happy. It made all those of years of bullying easier.

Another character I know has a stutter, but I haven’t read yet is Sadie from the book Sadie by Courtney Summers. A main character. With a stutter. Sadie like a lot of people with a stutter isn’t taken seriously in this book I’m told, and hearing about this both makes me happy and sad.

I want to read about more characters that stutter. I want to read more main characters that stutter. There are few things I want more. I also want to see more of other speech disorders.

2. Mental Illnesses.

This seems quite timely with it being Mental Illness Awareness Month. In the past few years, there’s been some increase in the number of books published with mentally ill characters and that’s great, it really is, but isn’t enough. I love that I’ve been able to read more books with anxious characters, depressed characters, characters with panic disorders, characters who suffer from addiction and a few with bipolar characters, but compared to the vastness of book published with mentally healthier characters, its nothing. It’s even worse that some mental illnesses are forgotten. I can count the books I’ve read with schizophrenic characters in one hand and still have fingers left. Have I ever read a book with a character with dissociative identity disorder? What about BPD and Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

No doubt these books exist, but they don’t exist enough, and that needs to change.

3. Parasomnias.

I know what you’re thinking. “Em, why parasomnias? There’s a lot of other things that need rep”. Well, because.
You’d probably think we have enough insomniac rep, but what about other parasomnias. Like hypersomnia or sleep paralysis. Like hypnagogic and hypopompic hallucinations. Even enuresis (yes, urinary incontinence).

My closest experience to reading a character hypopompic hallucinations is Blythe from The Black Veins. What happened in the Overture; the return of some form consciousness but not being able to move, the panic and helplessness that comes with feeling like you’re no longer in control of your own body, like you’re a prisoner in your body. That was the first time I read a book with the faintest representation of hypopompic/hypnagogic hallucinations.

4. Black Main Characters

Would it be possible to write a post like this without one of my signature requests? Absolutely not.

Using my recent tbr system, in which I have to read 3 books by Black authors this year, I’ve read at least 10 books with Black main characters. A poor number, also partly because I didn’t get to 3 books last month. Ten in four months (not counting this month) is a good number for me considering the abominable number last year.

Someone might argue and say but there’s a number of books with Black main characters being published now. But in comparison to books with White main characters, how do they look?

I’ll never stop clamoring for more Black main characters. I don’t think they can be too much Black rep, authentic Black rep, and Black characters just being ever.

5. Muslim Main Characters

Aha! I didn’t forget.

This should have been expected. Muslim representation isn’t something I’ll ever stop shouting about. Authentic Muslim rep.

Every time I read a book with Muslim rep, even one I didn’t like, my life span increases. I love Muslim rep and I want all kinds of rep. Queer Muslims, Devout Muslims, Cultural Muslims, Struggling Muslims, Black Muslims and White Muslims. I want rep for all of us. A whole variety of representations, just like there’s a whole variety of us.

(And I guess this is also a personal reminder to kinder about rep that doesn’t resonate with me, because it might for someone else)

6. Black Muslims

Yes, I put Black Muslims as a whole category of its own. And yes, I know I mentioned it before.

Putting Black Muslim as a separate category is very much intentional. This isn’t to undermine our Muslim-ness or our Blackness, but because ours is a special intersection. Black Muslims are often forgotten or have our identity broken to separate blocks and often its only our Blackness that gets acknowledged, our Muslim-ness much less so. It’s as if for some other reason we’re less Muslim than other Muslims. And our experiences aren’t the same either, riddled with racism, anti-blackness and Islamophobia, even in our communities. The only evenly or more complex intersection I can think of are Queer and Muslim; and Black, Queer and Muslim.

I have entire blog post on the need for Black Muslim representation (you can find it here), but nonetheless I won’t stop crowing about it. While Black and Muslim representation has grown, despite how minute it is, Black Muslim rep in comparison is still nonexistent. We experience these little victories separately, but hardly together. But we deserve better than that.


I’m always open to any recommendations with these representations. Drop any recs you have in the comment section. I want to read all of them!


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13 thoughts on “Bookish Wishes Of An ‘Atypical’ Girl #1

  1. I absolutely agree! Especially when you compare them to “the norm” and realize how few there actually are out there..

    I falled on TWO books where the MC was mute by choice, and I got really excited as I haven’t seen many of thoses around!
    I remember one book in particular that I read in High School.. the girl was SURE that she was seeing real aliens; so of course she was scared of being taken away by them — but in the end it was a form of sleep paralysis that was created trying to warn her of a brain cancer she had… and of course I can’t remember the title or even the author of that book 😶

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh, that sounds like something i’d love to read. i haven’t read a book with a character who has sleep paralysis 😭. and yes exactly, compared to ‘the norm’, a lot of diverse books are nothing (numerically)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, I absolutely love the design of your blog. The colors, the logo, they all look so great together!
    Secondly, I am glad you finally wrote this post. As a bisexual Muslim, I also want more books representing more Muslims. I want to see Muslims who are queer, I want to see Muslims who are straight, I want to see Muslims who aren’t the minority where they live and I also wanna see Muslims who struggle as part of the minority where they live.
    I feel sorry about your speech disorder. When I was really young, like about 13, I started writing a story about a girl with a stutter. I was inspired by stories of people with a speech disorder, and the struggles they face every single day. I wish there were more books about them. I hope that in the coming years you get to see more books with characters like you and feel seen and heard ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I fell in love with your blog and your writing in the last review post of yours I read and now I think I’m in love with you! ♥️♥️♥️ This is SUCH a lovely post, I was with you through the whole thing and I hope we all find all the reps we’re desperately wishing for. I hope we all find the books that help us feel we’re not alone, atypical, unseen or unheard. Here’s to—hopefully—better years of rep that’s inclusive and genuine! ♥️

    Like

  4. This is such a great post!! I feel like anytime the publishing industry publishes a book with even a littttle bit of representation they automatically pat themselves on the back and consider it a job done even though there’ll ONE book with rep as opposed to the thousands out there about white, Christian, cis characters.

    I hope that soon there’ll be enough representation in books that when you ask for a book with such and such character there won’t only be one book that can be recommended.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an interesting post! While I am aware of under-representation of certain cultures and races, I had not considered the Black Muslim viewpoint at all – even though I have friends who are black and Muslim! You have definitely raised a lot of good points!
    In terms of mental illness, I wholly agree that there are way more mentally fit characters than there are those struggling with a clinically diagnosed disorder. And when there are characters that are struggling with mental health, they are projected as crazy and their “delusions” are used as easy excuses for the authors to come up with all sorts of ridiculous plot twists! It is such a big pet peeve of mine!
    Great post!

    Like

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