the irresistible charm of one-legged young men

Hi again! I’m so sorry for the hiatus; I was crazy-busy with midterms and work and all that other fun stuff. Anyway, I am now on Spring break. And it actually feels like Spring! The weather is glorious and classes don’t start again until Monday, which means that I have more time and energy to invest in my absolute favorite pastime – reading! For those of you who don’t know, I’m a HUGE bookworm. If it were up to this English major, I would spend every day at home in my pajamas devouring all the books on my ever-growing To-Read list. Of course, I don’t get to choose which ones I read for school. And while I love the classics and the odd/obscure novels the professors pick, I also like to give my brain a rest and indulge in some literature geared towards young adults. Speaking of YA fiction, has anyone else noticed the recent trend in teen books? Two YA novels currently on the bestsellers list feature love interests who happen to have one leg.

Trailer for The Hunger Games movie, which hits theaters March 23rd

Okay, so maybe the word “trend” is a bit strong. It’s still too early to tell whether or not it will take off with other authors. But judging from the huge fandoms dedicated to these two books and the upcoming movies based on them, bipedal boyfriends might just become a thing of the past (unless, of course, their second leg is a prosthetic.) In case you haven’t heard about these dreamboats (do we even use that term to describe hotties anymore, or is that just my mom’s influence rubbing off on me?), allow me to enlighten you. In The Hunger Games, author Suzanne Collins creates a post-apocalyptic society that holds an annual competition where randomly selected people (all under the age of 18) must fight to the death in a specified arena; the sole survivor is then pronounced the winner. The protagonist is Katniss Everdeen, a teenaged girl who starts to fall for Peeta Mellark, her former neighbor and biggest threat in the Games. Now I’m sorry if this spoils a part of the story for anyone, but Peeta eventually loses his leg to a bad infection. So for the next two books (yes, The Hunger Games is a series!), he wears an artificial leg. And now oodles of young girls are in love with his baker-next-door charm and boyish good looks. If you don’t believe me, check Tumblr.com and run a search for his name. While you’re at it, you can also look up “Augustus Waters.”

Book trailer for The Fault in Our Stars

Let me start off this next book description by saying this: The Fault in Our Stars is my favorite book. Ever. MY FAVORITE BOOK. Did you get that part? It’s pretty rare for a bibliophile to single out just one book as a favorite, especially if said book has only been available in stores (and online) for less than three months. That should be a testament to the awesomeness that is the author John Green. I’ll be honest – I have a huge literary crush on the man. After all, he created Augustus Waters, the smart and thoughtful boy who lost his leg to cancer and knows how to make a girl swoon. If someone can make you fall hopelessly in love with a fictional character, he/she has mastered the art of writing fiction. Sorry if I sound sort of pathetic, but I closed the book with a sigh and a tear and a wish that Augustus were a real person. I also made my boyfriend and my best friend read it, and I’m pleased to announce that they were equally impressed by it. So if that’s enough of an incentive to read the novel, go for it! I highly suggest you do. Plus, Green manages to infuse so many deep insights and literary allusions into the novel that you might even discover a new truth about your life. Ah, the transformative power of literature! But I digress….I just get really excited about books like these!!!

This pic includes the whole Hunger Games series AND The Fault in Our Stars!

And you know the best part about The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars? They don’t focus so much on the characters’ disability. Instead, Peeta and Augustus are depicted as whole and attractive young men with the same human thoughts, desires, emotions, and weaknesses as anyone else. Their one-leggedness has nothing to do with the way they win over their girlfriends and essentially save the day. How cool and revolutionary is that – characters whose disabilities are really just part of them and don’t define them or symbolically represent a deeper issue in their personalities? It’s a big step up from The Odyssey‘s blind seer Tiresias or A Christmas Carol‘s pitiable Tiny Tim. I mean, Peeta and Augustus take the old disability trope of the poor little cripple and flip it on its head. And now, millions of readers around the world are falling in love with their genuine personalities and general hotness, regardless of how many limbs they possess. So if anyone reading this post just happens to be an established or aspiring YA fiction writer, take note of this: giving a character a disability is NOT going to make him or her any less awesome or relatable. If the success of The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars is any indication, your book might even end up on the bestsellers list.

Peace,
Caitlin 🙂

Note: If you’d like to check out The Hunger Games and/or The Fault in Our Stars, I’ve listed them (with links) under the “books i recommend” page on this blog.

All images found on either Tumblr or Google Images

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