Fairytale News | Leaving your characters behind.

'Mel on reading' is a little feature I created as part of my Fairytale news. It's my way to show my thoughts on topics that go from pet peeves in reading to my favorite things in books.

I often re-read a book and last them I got struck by the idea; those characters never grow older, but I do. I return to books with characters that used to be my age, but suddenly years later they are still the same and I’ve grown-up. It makes me feel like I’m leaving those characters behind me. It’s not that I can’t connect with them anymore, but it’s like they are a memory of a childhood friend you don’t see anymore. You only remember them how they were when you were young, but you never get to see them when they are older.

I might not have the appropriate age that is intended for Young Adult books, but I never struggle with connecting with most younger characters. I guess it’s because I don’t feel old. I have the age in number, but not the spirit. It’s like Nose Graze said: I feel like a fake adult. I also think it’s ridiculous to restrict YA books to the target group, because we should stop judging what everybody reads. But, sometimes those characters I identified with do things that make me shake my head now; and when I was younger I could totally understand it. This is especially the case when the character has a fight with their parents. I used to feel frustrated for that character, but now I often have to agree with their parents. It's the same when I try to return to books I read when I was < 12, it doesn’t work for me anymore. I feel (gosh, that sounds terrible) too old for those stories. I can see why I loved them, but I guess I have outgrown them. It's also the reason I am afraid to read some classic children books I missed while growing up, like the recently translated The letter for the King.

I can always group together with my Harry Potter characters. Growing older alongside the characters was a magical journey and I think that’s why I love the epilogue so much; I could see a glimpse of them being older. It makes me feel like I haven't left them behind, because they have grown older too. It feels more complete to me, because their story didn’t just stop at them being a teenager. It makes J.K Rowling even more epic too, because she keeps spoiling us with extra information about our beloved characters.

Do you ever feel like you’ve outgrown characters you used to love when you were the same age? Do you think that makes you a bit too harsh sometimes, when you judge them?


  1. This is such an interesting post! I've never thought of it as outgrowing my favorite characters, but I think that's a good way to put it. Sometimes books do lose their magic, which is why I'm afraid to re-read some of the books I loved as a kid. I recently did an audio re-read of the Abhorsen trilogy, and it was super disappointing. Then again, I can read Harry Potter or Tamora Pierce's books every single year without getting bored!

    Hahahahaha, I totally find myself sympathizing with the parents more frequently these days. Man, kids are stupid. I like to pretend I was never that stupid, but I think we both know I'm lying to myself. :)

    I still read mostly YA as well, but over the last few years I've limited it to main characters who are at least 16, preferably 17+. It's not that I absolutely can't read a book with younger characters, but I do find myself shaking my head at things that I would have understood better if I were that age. Interestingly, my dad read 90% of the books I did all the way through high school (in addition to his adult books), and he seemed to handle them just fine. I think that's a great thing to do for your kid! It was so nice to be able to talk about my favorite books with someone.

  2. Amazing topic, Mel! I'm ashamed to say that I literally outgrown the Percy Jackson series :( I first read the series when I was 10 and I finished it, but while waiting for the books in Heroes of Olympus to be released 2 years ago, I felt so detached and OLD because I no longer felt interested. :( I'm hoping to gain back the interest for the books, though. I don't like leaving all my favorite characters behind because I once adored them all when I was young <3

  3. Oh, this is such a fantastic post! And the stories that I read as a child, that I grew up with... I honestly don't think I could ever out grow them. Not really. Maybe I might begin to question them and their actions a little more, but I think when it comes to the stories I adored as a child and that maybe even shaped me, I don't think I'd ever out grow them. Then again--I'm only eighteen. Maybe that will change!

  4. Wonderful post Mel! And I agree with this wholeheartedly. Even though I am just 16, I am not able to connect to the characters I read about in my pre teen years. I feel so nostalgic when I think about those books and characters, but I really can't make myself reread the books and feel the same connection I felt towards them years ago.
    I hope this won't happen to me again when I grow up even more, because I'd feel totally lost if I can't connect to my favourite YA characters.

  5. Stunning post Mel. <3 I love love love your thoughts about this. Sigh. You are awesome. And I very much agree with you :) I don't feel like I'm old either while reading, hiih. Though I have suddenly turned 22. Hmph. Anyway. Thank you for sharing sweet girl. <3

  6. I know what you mean by growing up and being left behind. Like me, I was into this series when I was still in my early teens (more than decade already) and they still these kids and now I’m an adult. But because I still continue to follow it didn’t lose the gap. I think one of my favorite manga authors said that when you’re writing a long & continuous story it is necessary to make your character/story matured alongside your readers because they too also mature.

    For books, once read the story and timeline sorta halts. Sometimes reactions are immediate so when time passes our opinion and judgment changes. But not all the time, sometimes nostalgia tends to reaffirm my opinion thereby still loving the characters the way I did the first time.

  7. Woohoo this makes me melancholic haha, because I agree with you a lot. I once read this book about a certain girl and she's so much like me when I was younger (you know, average teenager with angst because of parents haha) but reading about it NOW. It makes me shake my head and think how my parents think now haha. I guess books also makes us a better person because back then, it makes us know that we aren't the only ones feeling like that. But now that we've grown, it makes me realize that that kind of behavior isn't mature for someone like me in this age. :)

  8. This is a thougt provoking post Mel<3 I remember the characters I liked when I was younger but now when I re-read the stories the connection isn't really there anymore. I think it mainly has to do with growing up and gaining more experience. <3 Benish| Feminist Reflections

  9. Unfortunately, I feel as though we outgrow everything: whether it be a favorite pair of shoes or a band that we used to be in love with. People change and we grow and develop. I know that I loved divergent and recently just read it and went, "um... why did i like it so much?"

    I think i has a lot to do with our mentality and personality that makes us relate to the character. I used to LOVE Jamie Kelly from Dear Dumb Diary but now I'm like, "that girl is such a spoiled brat who needs to get a reality check." I know it's part of her character but now it only bothers me.

  10. Honestly, this is something that I was thinking about recently. I turned a year older this past week, and it's got me thinking about YA and if I'm even going to like it as I get older. Of course I want to say YES, but a part of me wonders. Yet, I think that there will always be a part of us that will love our childhood books, even if it's in a different way. I think we can grow more mature and see things from a different perspective- like the whole fighting with parents thing that you mentioned!- but the basic love for beloved books will never go away.

    Lovely, lovely post, Mel. This is such a thought-provoking discussion post! <33

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  11. I haven't really given much thought to this. The most that I think is that when I reread the Harry Potter series, the dead characters get to live again. It's a very bittersweet thought.

    I'm still in the age group, but even later on, I'll still love YA. I just don't like adult books, with all the dry plots. I like YA because it's so easy to read them, and I love the community YA has.

  12. There have been a couple of books this year that have made me think: I need to remember that I am a 25 year old reading about 16 year olds. Sometimes it's hard for me to take that step back and not judge these characters for their immaturity. It's a little ridiculous because I know that if any blogger were inside my head when I was in high school, they'd be shaking their heads haha.

    Great discussion!

  13. SO I don't reread very often, so many of my beloved characters just remain a fond memory. BUT I was recently talking with Ashley about how I was a little scared to reread Harry Potter because WHAT IF my reading experience as an adult changed how I viewed the books? I don't know if that is actually possible because the amount of love I have for these books and these characters knows no bounds and I think I will enjoy revisiting the story but again, WHAT IF? I've grown SO MUCH since I started the series... I don't have a problem connecting with characters much younger than me but I do feel like as I am getting older and reading more books, my interactions are changing. Really interesting discussion Mel!

  14. I think that's what sets aside a good book from a GREAT book: when you can return after so many years and STILL identify with the characters and their struggle. Hence why you have no problem returning to HP and the gang - and neither do I! I have had similar struggles with books from my youth but it doesn't happen that often since as a younger reader, I'd read more contemporaries, historicals and well now I read mostly fantasy,sci-fi and adult reads.

    I don't think it makes you harsh when you judge them now though. It just shows that we're always changing and evolving, as people and as readers so what we loved as kids can be problematic when we're older. And that's ok :)

  15. I guess I've never worried about it, but now that I think about it, I know what you mean! Your perspective changes so much between your early teens and, say, twenty. I do find myself wondering how characters make their decisions more than I used to, but like you I can why. I wouldn't do it today, but I might have five years ago. There are plenty of books, though, that I can reread now and love just as much as I did. Ella Enchanted is the ultimate one for me, because I'll never not love it and Ella (and Char, of course!).

    Such a great post, Mel!! :D

  16. I think we all eventually "outgrow" the characters we loved hen we were younger, but I also think it is, most of the time, in the most basic sense.

    For example, when I was a kid (younger than 12), I loved a series called Phantom Stallion. The main girl ages from 12 to about 14 over the span of about 23 books. When I was 18, I decided to re-read the series again, because I'd never read it in order. And, to be honest, I loved them just as much. I didn't feel as disconnected to the main character as I thought I would, and I really remembered why it had been one of my all time favourite series.

    Sometimes, though, I do go back and read books I loved as a kid and I am really disappointed. That sucks.

    I also think the "outgrown" aspect depends on how the characters are written, and the way you read it. If that makes sense! I mean sometimes the characters in kids books are really mature. And if you read it thinking that you're not the same, I guess that'll impact your reading.

    I don't like to think I'll outgrow YA in quite the same way I have outgrown other genres, though. That would break my heart.

  17. THat's an interesting poing about outgrowing your favorites. I've been wanting to read The Song of the Lioness Quartet forever and I wonder how I'll look at the characters almost 20 years later.

    Part of the reason I find it easy to connect with YA characters is because a lot of them don't act like kids. Especially in fantasy and science fiction YA. They're usually thrown into rough situations that make them grow up really fast and they don't all have parents. And when they do have parents, they tend to be pretty uninvolved (generally speaking of course).

  18. Hi Mel! Was browsing through your blog and found this post and I'd like to add my own thoughts to your discussion.

    I agree with what you've said and I too feel sad when I return to some books I enjoyed years earlier only to find I don't feel the same away about it or the characters anymore. It's horrible and disappointing to think we can 'outgrow' a book because I want to my first impression to be the one that sticks and stays with me forever. But sadly, we do.

    As you illustrated with the case about fighting with parents, I can totally agree. I think it could also be down to the fact that as we grow older, we take into account that there are always different perspectives and we can't just focus on one side or one person's motives.

    I would love it if authors could carry on writing about my favourite characters so that I could follow them on their journey as they grow up. But at the same time, I wonder if the magic would be lost if we refuse to 'leave them behind' and demand for some sort of closure.

    I'm not entirely sure if I articulated myself very well here but I hope it made some sort of sense - thanks for the fantastic post!


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