Carrie Fisher: Rebel Princess, The Library and Me
I once presented at ALA with Princess Leia hair buns. I was having a bad hair day, feeling defeated, and the clock was ticking. I needed to go sit in front of my professional peers and talk about Free Comic Book Day programming. So I summoned the Force, threw my hair up in two buns on the side of my head, and just went with it. Princess Leia hair, I would later argue to someone who questioned me, was the perfect hair for a panel on Free Comic Book Day. Comics, like Leia, are rebellious.
Free Comic Book Day. Star Wars Reads Day. May the 4th.
Star Wars has been a huge part of my professional library career.
It’s also been a huge part of my private life.
I remember waiting in line to go see Return of the Jedi on a dark night.
I remember my little brother going to sleep each night with a stuffed R2-D2.
I remember my own stuffed Ewok.
Last year, I had the honor and privilege of introducing my daughters to the Star Wars universe and taking them to see A Force Awakens. Here again was Carrie Fisher breaking the mold. Older now, she stood on that screen larger than life and she continued to lead the rebellion.
Many years ago, late at night, The Mr. and I were flipping channels when we stumbled across Carrie Fisher’s one woman show. We watched it and I was astounded to realize all that she had fought with and by most appearances won in her life time. Later, when I would have my own struggles with mental health, I remembered how she fought to erase the stigma. “She was a champion for mental illness,” I told my girls yesterday, “She struggled with depression.” My daughter looked at me and said, “that’s what happens to you sometimes.” And it is. We put a name to it, we take away it’s shame and power. It’s an illness, I remind my girls.
It is only later in life that I would learn of Carrie’s tremendous talent as a writer, which seems odd when you consider that for 22 years I have been a champion of the written word. But as in most things in life, women have to work twice as hard to get half the credit. She did the work, and was good at it.
I recently took both of my girls to see Rogue One. We had a very Star Wars Christmas at my house. The Force Awakens, Rogue One, t-shirts and pajamas. And while I knew these gifts sat under our tree, I also knew that Carrie Fisher was in a hospital fighting for her life.
2016 has been devastating to my childhood.
But I do not lose hope. Hope is what rebellions are made of. And in the true spirit of Carrie Fisher, I will continue to fight the rebellions and give my teens the tools to fight it for the next generation.
To Carrie Fisher I say, “I love you.” To which she replies, “I know.”
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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