When I was a teenager I read every book that Lurlene McDaniel wrote. She wrote what many people refer to as “The Chemo Cannon.” All of her protagonists had a chronic illness. A lot of them had cancer. And yes, I had issues with most of them for various reasons. And yes, very few characters made it out of her books alive. But, it was the only place I sort of saw myself in books.
But not once did a girl character have one leg (Kimber had one arm). Not a single one.
There was a book where a miracle happened the girl got to keep her leg. I remember throwing that book across the room. It was a terrible plot device even to teenage-me. I wrote and asked if she planned on ever writing one. And she told me not at this time. I felt flawed. Like I didn’t exist outside of my own life in any popular culture.
I just wanted to see someone who was like me. Everyone needs to see themselves.
Today while scrolling facebook I saw this video.
Do you see this little girl’s reaction to seeing herself? This is why representation matters. She will need to see herself in a book someday.
And I’m writing it.