Why I Like Complicated, Flawed, Perfectly Imperfect and Sometimes Downright Unlikeable Heroines (and You Should Too), a guest post by Brittany Geragotelis
As an author, I’ve gotten my fair share of critiques on my books. I know, I know, par for the course, right? And most of them I can let run off my back. Everyone’s entitled to their opinions and everyone has one. With that said, the one that actually irks me most is the argument that a character of mine isn’t totally “likeable.” Either she’s too self-absorbed or too bitchy or falls in love too fast or is too perfect…the list goes on and on. So, you’d think that by now I would just give in and write a fully likeable character.
But here’s the thing: I LIKE flawed characters.
I like the characters who are beautiful but make mistakes because they think their beauty is enough. I dig a girl who falls in love as quickly as a five-minute mile, only to have it implode just as fast. I go crazy over someone who is stubborn and self-absorbed or snarky or mean, as long as there’s a lesson to be learned there.
Because THAT’S interesting.
And it’s REALISTIC.
Newsflash: we all have flaws. We all mess up (especially in our youth). We’re all stubborn, and mean (at times), and selfish. We all fell for the boy—or girl—when we knew we shouldn’t. We all said something or did something we shouldn’t have and paid the price for it. That’s life, after all.
But beyond that, not all of these so-called unlikeable traits are wholly…bad.
In my series The Infamous Frankie Lorde, the main character is a thief. She’s the daughter of an infamous international con-artist and is an expert at just about everything to do with pulling a job. Stealing, lying, breaking and entering—she does it all. When we meet Frankie, her dad’s been sent to prison and she’s been sent to her own kind of prison: to live with her cop uncle in Greenwich, CT.
This is when she decides to switch up her game: she vows to only steal from the criminal, corrupt and downright evil people in the community, and give back to those who deserve or need it. And suddenly her misdeeds aren’t so bad. Because, in the end, what she’s doing is for the greater good.
When I started writing the Frankie books, I was super excited at the thought of my two kiddos reading it one day. I have a 5-year-old and a nearly 2-year-old and despite the fact that Frankie’s a thief, I actually hope my kids recognize all the great traits the character has and maybe take on some of them themselves. Flaws and all.
Because sometimes we need our unlikeable moments in order to grow, learn and push us to become better humans. Also, sometimes all that separates a bad characteristic from a good one is how you choose to use it.
Here are some of the questionable traits that Frankie has that I hope my kids pick up someday:
Frankie is super clever and knows a little about everything. She knows how to speak multiple languages. She knows how to pick a lock. She knows how to BS her way into getting what she wants. She’s a master manipulator. My older son, Huck already has this trait in the bag. He’s so smart and driven and will go after something with everything he has if he wants it enough. As long as his focus is on a prize that won’t harm anyone else, I don’t mind him being a bit mischievous.
At first, Frankie tries to keep her head down and not rock the boat in her new life—even when a new friend is being bullied. She thinks it’s the best way to keep her secret life a secret. In the end, she learns when she needs to come out of that mode to help others and when to focus on herself. Selfishness can be a great thing sometimes—like when it’s in the form of self-preservation. Also, if we focus solely on the needs of others, we can often forget about our own needs and wants, which could end up leaving us with nothing more to give. It’s like what they say on an airplane: In case of emergency, put your mask on first and THEN assist others. Selfishness can be our own way of doing this.
Let’s be honest, being a great liar can also make for a fantastic storyteller. It can also describe someone who has a very good imagination and is great at making people believe the tall tales they weave. This is a trait that isn’t always easy to come by. Besides, it’s not like I can argue with the fact that as an author, I myself am a professional liar by trade. I just choose to use my powers for good, and not evil. My goal as a parent will be to try to teach my kids to do the same.
Overly-confident, know-it-all, sassy, argumentative—some may see these traits as negative, but they can also be incredibly useful. Confidence is important when you’re heading into a dangerous or scary situation. And questioning authority or those who are in any positions of power (i.e. bullies) can be a highly enviable characteristic. While I don’t want my kids to be rude for no reason or to outright disrespect their teachers or the law, I do want them to know that if something doesn’t sit right with their soul, they can question why. No matter who they’re up against.
So, I say we celebrate a character’s messier qualities. These are the ones that will make us all think, learn and hopefully decide within ourselves just the kind of people we want to be.
Meet the author
Brittany Geragotelis is the author of the perfectly imperfect THE INFAMOUS FRANKIE LORDE series, which is a youthful mashup of Ocean’s Eleven meets Robin Hood. She’s also the author of the magical teen series, LIFE’S A WITCH, mom to two mischievous boys, a cat, a dog and four fish, and wife to an awesome guy who spends all his time on YouTube. When she’s not writing or momming, she’s reading, binge-watching shows on Netflix and Hulu and making day-trips to Disneyland. For more on Brittany and her life, visit brittanygeragotelis.com, twitter.com/TheBookSlayer and Instagram.com/thebookslayer
About The Infamous Frankie Lorde 2: Going Wild
Tiger King meets Ocean’s 8 in this slick second book in the Infamous Frankie Lorde series as potentially reformed international thief Frankie dives into the dangerous and political world of trafficking exotic animals. Perfect for fans of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls and Heist Society.
For Frankie, using her less-than-legal set of skills to pull a heist against a crooked real estate mogul with the help of her new friend Ollie was super gratifying, but she’s getting restless now. And with her no end in sight for her dad’s prison sentence, she’s finally coming to terms with the fact that she may be in Connecticut for a lot longer than she expected.
Volunteering at a local animal shelter over school break, Frankie and Ollie hear that there’s a dangerous exotic animal farm supplying Greenwich’s elite with lions and tigers and bears. (Oh my!) Feeling an instant kinship with the endangered creatures locked away in their cages, Frankie makes it her mission to find the perpetrators, free the beautiful beasts, and ensnare the bad guys in a trap of her own.
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication date: 08/03/2021
Series: The Infamous Frankie Lorde #2
Age Range: 10 – 14 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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