Back in 2015, when I just read an English YA novel for the very first time ever in my life, I did not know yet what diversity and representation in literature means. The 16 year-old me just takes whatever there is. Back then, I did not know or could not even see how white the bookshelves are in National Book Store. (The 16 year-old me wasn’t also aware that other bookstores exists aside from NBS. This is simply because NBS is pang-masa and the most popular book and school supplies store in the country. I was a reader ever since a kid but I was able to get books from random resources without needing to buy from a bookstore every time.) What I knew was that, John Green and Nicholas Sparks are extremely popular authors. And that I should read them. Because they were popular, I thought it’s a must to be considered a real reader, I did not know better, and I was a fool.
I did not know how badly I need diverse books.
I did not know how badly I need to feel represented.
I did not know that it is possible, for a Filipina like me, who is from a broken family, finding her place in the world, in the journey of learning about herself and the people and basically everything around her, finding her voice, with mental health issues, and has secrets she just couldn’t tell and is trying to burn down the memories into ashes, can see herself in a book.
Now, 4 years later, with me celebrating my 3rd blog anniversary just in few months time, and with me being aware of my own need of diversity and representation in literature, I can finally see the problem of lack of diversity and representation in literature especially in YA lite. And I am fortunate to have seen the white bookshelves in National Book Store, turn into colorful ones. I have seen books by persons of color and from different marginalized groups fill the shelves of different book stores as well as my own bookshelf.
I know that we are still far from witnessing every marginalized groups in the world be represented in literature especially teens in YA and I strongly hope we actually get there.
But, I am one of the already blessed people who have already found herself represented in a YA book. And I am truly thankful that I am.
I wrote this as an appreciation post for the precious books I have read over the past years that made me feel *WELL* represented. (I have been planning to write this since 2018 but 4th year college happened so…) By this, I mean books that made me feel heard, books that made me feel like I am not alone anymore, books that made me feel understood, books that scream (a part of) who I am, which all stayed in my heart.
I will not be able to explain why, for personal reasons, these books gave me voice and become my voice. Soon, I might get there but who knows? But I just want to shout to the whole universe and other universes out there that these are THOSE books and I want their authors to know HOW MUCH THEY AFFECTED ME and HOW MUCH POWER THEIR WORDS HAVE OVER ME.
These are the books that empowers me.
These are the books that pushes me to go farther, to realize that I have hope and that I should just keep on going.
These are the books that are always in my mind and in my heart.
Without further ado, here are the books that made me feel represented and I am truly beyond grateful for…
How about you? Have you found this kind of books in your life? Did a book make you feel represented or heard before? Have you ever felt like a book is made solely for you? What are those books? Why don’t you shout their titles out loud too? Share your thoughts and feelings below!