|Click here to read the entire The Wall Street Journal article|
I'm often in defense of "unlikable characters" in books. I think they are the most interesting especially if the author has done a great job at rounding out a bit about why this person has so many fatal character flaws while handing us a fictional mirror to hold up to ourselves--simply brilliant.
I am especially drawn to the young adult book that is willing, and unafraid, to show those characters engaged in a realistic struggle of identity formation.
As a school psychologist and mother of two, I love writing for and working with teens. I feel that part of that passion stems from the fact that I fully acknowledge they are in the middle of a sometimes volcanic developmental period that frequently manifests into some not very "likable" character traits. To deny this and not represent this struggle as reflected in some teen characters in literature is to pretend that they are only physically younger adults (albeit much, much cooler and better dressed adults) but still in possession of all the wisdom gained of a life already lived. How much more powerful is the YA book that makes the discovery of that character development with teen readers instead of assuming they already know they shouldn't respond to conflict by acting like jerks?