Some far more eloquent people are discussing the fact that we need diverse books. I hesitate to jump in on the conversation–not because I disagree, but because I am a middle class white girl, through and through.
But, seriously. Duh.
Of course we need diverse books. It makes me sad that this even needs to be said. Who would argue this? It’s like saying we need books. Again, duh.
When I decided to make Lulu, the main character of my debut novel, My Best Everything (March 2015: Little Brown), part Hispanic; it wasn’t out of some need for diversification. I wasn’t making any kind of multi-cultural statement. Living in southern California, it’s simply not unusual. My husband is part Hispanic, so my children are too–even though they don’t “look” it. For me, it was more about the way I imagined Lulu’s appearance. Also, I wanted her father to be clearly not from the small town she wants to escape–to explain part of why she’s so desperate to leave.
For me, the bigger risk was making her Catholic. I know that people have certain ideas of what Catholic looks like. And it’s often not an attractive image. But for me, religion has always been a part of my life. A good part. A rich part.
I know that designation–that stepping out of the mainstream neutral status quo–may alienate some readers. But maybe it will widen someone else’s perspective. Or maybe some Catholic teen will see a bit of herself in Lulu. Or maybe it will be a teen who is Morman. Or Jewish. Buddhist. Muslim. Atheist. Someone for whom religion is part of their world view.
We are all the same, we are all unique.
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK