25 Most Memorable Characters of 2021

What to Do If You're in Love with a Fictional Character | Bethany House  Fiction

For last year’s post, click HERE.


  1. Rowan Beck from The Ship We Built
The Ship We Built: Bean, Lexie: 9780525554837: Amazon.com: Books
A thoughtful, smart, sensitive Transgender boy with an awful secret, Rowan had my heart from the very beginning.

2. Eleanor Oliphant from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel: Honeyman, Gail:  9780735220683: Amazon.com: Books

Eleanor is salty, rude, and deeply damaged. She’s also funny and smart, with a sensitive side she hides from others.

3. Dr. Elliot Harper from I’m a Therapist… series

Amazon.com: I'm a Therapist, and My Patient is Going to be the Next School  Shooter: 6 Patient Files That Will Keep You Up At Night (Dr. Harper Therapy):  9780578453040: Harper, Dr.: Books
A troubled gay therapist whose clientele is the stuff of nightmares, Dr. Harper is admittedly eccentric and highly strung. He’s also an intensely dedicated (although sometimes to the point of breaching ethics and breaking the law) person who deserves love and happiness, despite all his flaws.

4. Tess from Paper Heart

Paper Heart: Patrick, Cat: 9781984815347: Amazon.com: Books
Sensitive, smart, and capable, Tess is immensely relatable to anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety or felt like they ‘weren’t good enough.’

5. Derek from Defekt

Amazon.com: Defekt (LitenVerse Book 2) eBook : Cipri, Nino: Kindle Store
It’s a joy to see socially awkward corporate yes-man Derek turn into a strong and capable character determined to do what’s right.

6. Gilda from Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Amazon.com: Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead: A Novel:  9781982167356: Austin, Emily: Books
I love this character with every fiber of my being and I can’t tell you how many times I related to her throughout this book. She’s another protagonist who should be instantly relatable to anyone with anxiety.

7. Pauline, Freddie, and Leroy from The Free

The Free: A Novel: Vlautin, Willy: 9780062276742: Amazon.com: Books
These characters are so lonely and lost and I ached for them throughout the duration of this novel. They are kind people making the best of a terrible situation and I wanted a happy ending for every one of them. REVIEW COMING SOON

8. Adam and Julian from A List of Cages

Amazon.com: A List of Cages: 9781484763803: Roe, Robin: Books
Two very different but awesome kids whose friendship is the focus of this wrenching novel. Adam’s determination to save Julian from his abuser is powerful and I ended up caring about both of them a lot.

9. Sarah Jane from Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane by James Sallis
Sarah Jane has had a hard life (to say the least) but that doesn’t stop her from being a dedicated, compassionate cop and a little bit of a badass. She toughs out situations that would break a lot of people.

10. Aristotle and Dante from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Amazon.com: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe:  8601404293382: Sáenz, Benjamin Alire: Books
These boys’ love story is unconventional but moving and I liked how their seemingly polar opposite personalities complimented each other. I’m definitely interested in reading the sequel and getting to see their relationship as it changes and develops.

11. Merricat Blackwood from We Have Always Lived in the Castle

2015 Favorite Reads – We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson  – GriffinWords
Definitely not a ‘likable’ character, but a fascinating and vividly realized protagonist. Merricat is an strange, socially isolated anti-heroine and I loved reading about her deeply peculiar existence.

12. Holden Caufield from The Catcher in the Rye

Amazon.com: The Catcher in the Rye: 9787543321724: J.D. Salinger: Books
Same as Merricat, I don’t find him likable but I think he’s an interesting character with a great narrative voice.

13. Jane from Stupid Children

Stupid Children: Zion, Lenore: 9780983693260: Amazon.com: Books
Another really strange anti-heroine, Jane is trying to retain her humanity in the midst of horrific circumstances. Her perspective is both uncomfortable and fascinating.

14. Felipe from Here the Whole Time

Amazon.com: Here the Whole Time eBook : Martins, Vitor, Helena, Larissa:  Kindle Store
As a someone who was a fat teenager and is now a fat adult, I could definitely relate to Felipe’s body image issues and self-consciousness. I also love his nerdiness and pop culture savviness, and how he wasn’t defined by either his weight or his sexuality.

15. Pearl from Let’s No One Get Hurt

Amazon.com: Let's No One Get Hurt: A Novel: 9780374185244: Pineda, Jon:  Books
A marginalized loner living off the grid with her dad and his friends, Pearl was an interesting protagonist, largely because of the otherness of her existence. She was also a strong-minded person who didn’t have much patience for bullshit, but despite her prickliness she would have done anything for her family.

16. Charley from Lean on Pete

Lean on Pete: A Novel: Vlautin, Willy: 9780061456534: Amazon.com: Books
Yay, another Willy Vlautin book! I’ll read literally anything he writes. Anyway, Charley is a naive but strong-willed kid struggling to survive with no adult support or supervision. It’s impossible not to care about him and to want him to find a parental figure who will treat him with the compassion he deserves.

17. Mason Buttle in The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle: Connor, Leslie: 9780062491435:  Amazon.com: Books
A big, sweaty, learning-disabled outcast with a heart of gold, Mason’s plain-spokenness and eccentricity makes him hard not to like. He also has synesthesia, which is an interesting condition that I’d like to read more about.

18. Amber from Run, Rebel

Amazon.com: Run, Rebel: 9780241411421: Mann, Manjeet: Books
Amber is deeply flawed and sometimes unfair to others but she’s committed to helping her mom become more independent despite being married to an abusive man. Amber is tough and unyielding and I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side, but I also love her devotion to the people she cares about.

19. London, Maxine, Rose and Alice from The Degenerates

The Degenerates | Book by J. Albert Mann | Official Publisher Page | Simon  & Schuster
These girls are awesome and seeing their dedication to each other and their hope for a better life (despite their almost unbearable realities) is equal parts heartbreaking and compelling.

20. Zelda from When We Were Vikings

When We Were Vikings: MacDonald, Andrew David: 9781982126766: Amazon.com:  Books
An eccentric cognitively disabled girl obsessed with Vikings, Zelda is a unique character with a big personality and bigger heart.

21. Jason from Freaks Like Us

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught
Jason is a smart and caring kid with schizophrenia, whose inner voices dictate his day-to-day life. He’s also a fascinating character with a unique and compelling narrative voice.

22. Carrie White from Carrie

Carrie: King, Stephen: 9780307743664: Amazon.com: Books
Poor Carrie. She’s a character so awkward and so deeply strange you feel as if you know her. She’s also an example of what happens when you push the shy kid too far.

23. Harry Sue from Harry Sue

Harry Sue Book Review
Behind her ‘tough girl’ persona, Harry Sue is just a vulnerable kid struggling to survive in an unforgiving environment. Her unique worldview (she aspires to go to prison to be with her mom) and mix of somewhat delinquent behavior and good intentions make her a character who’s hard to forget.

24. Annika Rose from The Girl He Used to Know

The Girl He Used to Know: A Novel: Garvis Graves, Tracey: 9781250200358:  Amazon.com: Books
Annika is an introverted animal lover with ASD, and one of the most memorable characters on the spectrum I’ve read about in a long time.

25. Obie from Obie is Man Enough

Obie Is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar: 9780593379462 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
Obie is a Transgender boy trying to survive in a harsh world. He’s athletic, a little bit nerdy, family-oriented and he’s determined to be true to himself despite some people’s judgement and cruelty. I really liked Obie and his combination of self-consciousness and quiet strength. REVIEW COMING SOON

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