When Joelle Anthony published her thoughts on overused elements of MG/YA fiction, the red headed best friend came in second. This post was first published in 2007 (and has since been updated) but I would argue that in my experience it isn't that common. In fact, I believe slutty best friend trumps redhead best friend in spades.
After my discussion on negative versus critical reviews yesterday, I wanted to shine some positivity on a deserving group. While issues of eating disorders, racism and sexual identity are all issues that are getting some attention - what about the red head minority? They are one of the unsung troopers of the YA world. They need all the positivity they can get!
I am declaring him the unofficial public face of the YA redhead plight. Not only is he ginger haired but he's from a long line of similarly afflicted wizards. Genetics deemed that there was no escape in the Weasley household.
Never was there a better character to fly the flag for red hair tolerance than Ron. Brave, foolhardy, loyal and in love with a girl with brains - what more can we ask for?
James (Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway)
Alas there is no picture for this understanding cutie pie. James answers the question - who said a romantic interest can't be adorned with a red crown of glory? Well...no one actually asked that question but this dude is amongst the best representations of a nice guy who is interesting. It is like he's an Abominable Snowman or Bigfoot - a complete anomaly (nice and interesting, red haired romantic interest). Brave to Benway for achieving the impossible and pushing forward the red haired dude's right to win the protagonist's heart!
We have to put some chicks into the mix. Fire sports a particularly awesome shade of red as she's part monster. Lucky she was raised in a fantastical medieval world as high school would have been a special type of hell for her. Fire's strong, determined and a brilliant representative of her kind (whether that be monster, female or redhead - you decide.)
Plus...I really want her tresses.
When Cassandra Clare's lead isn't fielding kisses from her assumed brother, her actual brother or her geeky vamp best mate she is mixing it up with the bad guys. A proactive, decisive, empowered character who breaks the best friend mold to be a fantastic fantasy protagonist!
There will be fisticuffs if the movie casting goes in another hair colour direction for casting.
...I can hear you screaming, I am getting to her...
|Apologies for quality but this is |
from a 1926 edition that I own.
While her carrot plaits might have started off in MG territory she cruised on through to YA. Have pity on Anne, she hated her hair more than anyone else could have (she even tried to dye it to ill affect). But she gained an education and won Gilbert's heard...enough said.
She (and Montgomery) also introduced me to the Lady of Shallot for which I shall be forever grateful.
Is anyone else noticing a pattern here? Strong, kick ass heroines from fantasy YA titles seem to be leading the redhead charge. Alanna preceded all mentioned so far and rightly so. She's is the grandmother of all awesomely empowered female protagonists regardless of their hair's hue. At the age of ten she swaps identities with her twin brother and in disguise goes through years of knight training. How unbelievably awesome is that? How unbelievably awkward does that get as the years go by? Hair colour was never a concern for Alanna, she had more things to worry about eg poisoning, invasion, conspiracies.
If she had to worry about her hair, I would find the male styling to be a greater issue :)
Amy (I Love You I Hate You I Miss You - Elizabeth Scott)
We needed a redheaded train wreck and here we have one! She drinks excessively. She sleeps around. She thinks of herself as nothing. And her best friend just died. Amy's one ball full of pain, anger and grief. She also happens to be incredibly raw and real. Poor Amy doesn't seem to have acclimatised to being a redhead ball of awesome as she describes her hair as "...the color red leaves are right before they rot." She needs some love, people!
Other suggestions (via twitter)
- Alan from Sarah Rees Brennan's The Demon's Lexicon
- Eliza from Shirley Marr's Fury
- Gemma from Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty etc
Are redheads underrepresented in YA? Are they over-represented as best friends? Should we be waving our red head flag? Who have I blindly left off the list?