It’s going to be hard to narrow it down to just twenty-five, I’ve read a lot of good books with interesting characters this year. I’ll try to keep this list as versatile as possible and include a lot of different genres.
Standish Treadwell ( by Sally Gardner) Maggot Moon
I loved this kid’s narrative voice and I really cared about him by the end of the story.
2. Rose Howard (
by Ann M. Martin) Rain Reign
This girl would drive me crazy in real life, but she has such a good heart.
3. Trina Goldberg-Oneka (
by Chana Porter) The Seep
I wish this character had more of a backstory but I still really liked her. She was also a trans woman who’s gender identity was not the focus of the story which was a nice change.
4. Mei (
by jia qing wilson-yang) Small Beauty
Another transgender protagonist. I’ve really read a lot of good GLBT+ books this year.
5. Hank (
by Margaret Finnegan) We Could Be Heroes
I love this kid. Flawed but smart and compassionate, he was a great portrayal of someone on the autism spectrum.
6. Alex (
by Jack Cheng) See You in the Cosmos
This kid was also definitely on the spectrum, even though in his case he wasn’t diagnosed. Alex is funny and extraordinary intelligent and has a huge heart.
7. Erin (
by Kay Kerr) Please Don’t Hug Me
Erin was awesome. I related to her right away.
8. Tatty (
by Christine Dwyer Hickey) Tatty
A smart kid trapped in a horrible family situation, my heart really went out to this girl.
9. Aidan (
by Mike Curato) Flamer
The author did a really good job developing Aidan’s character and making you care about him despite the brevity of this graphic novel.
10. Xiomara (
by Elizabeth Acevedo) The Poet X
Xiomara was awesome! She was so well-developed and she felt like a real person. I felt for her so much.
11. Ben Arnold (
by Michael Landweber) We
Ben was very well-developed and even though he was a really flawed character you couldn’t help but root for him.
12. Lou Montgomery (
by Jamie Sumner) Tune it Out
This was the first book I’ve read that’s specifically about SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) but Lou is a strong character who’s undoubtedly more than her diagnosis.
13. Ivy Aberdeen (
by Ashley Herring Blake) Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World
A strong, authentic, and heart-breakingly vulnerable pre-teen girl.
14. Frankie (
by Cat Patrick) Tornado Brain
I know this list has a lot of characters who are on the autism spectrum on it, but I still didn’t think the list would be complete without Frankie. She was a compelling protagonist who was a lot stronger than people gave her credit for.
15. Sandy Sanders (
by Kacen Callender) King and the Dragonflies
This book was full of good characters but Sandy was my favorite. He had such a hard life but he never let his circumstances destroy him.
16. Joey Pigza (
& Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos)
You can’t help but root for this kid, he’s such a mess but his heart is in the right place. His character development is really good too.
17. Jakabob Botch (
by Clive Barker) Mister B. Gone
Unlike the other characters on this list, the protagonist of this book has no redeeming qualities, but he’s a unique and unforgettable narrator.
18. All the Kids (
by M.G. Hennessey) The Echo Park Castaways
They were all amazing. I can’t pick just one.
19. Jack (
by Seanan McGuire) Come Tumbling Down
Jack is definitely my favorite character in this series. She’s so out there but she’s awesome.
20. Emma-Jean Lazarus (
by Lauren Tarshis) Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree
Emma-Jean rules. I wish I could have had a friend like her growing up.
21. Billy Pilgrim (
by Kurt Vonnegut) Slaughterhouse-Five
This guy was such an odd duck. I’ve never seen a character quite like him.
22. Germain (
by Marie-Sabine Roger) Soft in the Head
I have a weakness for oddball characters. Both this book and the film adaptation (‘My Afternoons with Marguerite’) are fantastic.
23. Calliope (
by Ellie Terry) Forget Me Not
I felt for this girl so much. Her mom and her classmates sucked, she deserved better.
24. Snapdragon (
by Kat Leyh) Snapdragon
This girl was a bit of an outsider but I loved how unapologetically herself she was. I also related to her unconventional and slightly morbid interests.
25. Molly Southbourne (
& The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson) The Survival of Molly Southbourne
I love a good anti-hero(ine?) This character is so fucked-up but her bizarre upbringing and worldview are fascinating.