Something Really Amazing: A Letter to the Women of The Selection Series

This is the latest in my collection of letters to female characters who’ve inspired me throughout my life as a fangirl. If you have a character you’d like to write a letter to, click here for details about The Fan Mail Project!



To the women of the Selection series:

You stand out. Young Adult fiction is an ever-expanding genre, and many series have been created over the last handful of years about a brave girl who fights a corrupt government—and has to choose between two very different but very attractive male suitors as she does so. Even in stories that are about things other than fallen societies and uprisings, there seems to be a trend in many Young Adult novels: The girl stands alone. Yes, there might be female family members who are important to the main heroine or one close female friend or mentor. However, the central female character is often a loner or a girl who’s much closer to the young men around her than other young women.

Thank you for being part of a different kind of story.

I spent the summer I turned 26 reading nothing but Young Adult books in an attempt to prove that this genre isn’t something to put down, but is instead filled with beautiful works of literature to be cherished by readers of all genders and generations. That’s when I discovered The Selection, The Elite, and The One. More than any other books I read that summer, those stayed with me, and it was because of you, the women of this world. Yes, this series had sweeping romance, action, and sociopolitical commentary. But it also had something I’d never seen before in a Young Adult series: a plethora of female characters who are incredibly different but come to support, forgive, protect, and genuinely love each other.

So often women are taught to compare themselves to other women and to see themselves as competition—especially competition for male attention and affection. And, at first, that’s the world many of you were thrust into—selected to compete for the hand and heart of Prince Maxon. You were expected to see each other as enemies, to immediately judge each other and judge yourselves in comparison to each other, and to put each other down in an attempt to build yourselves up. And some of you (I’m looking at you, Celeste.) did exactly that for far too long.

But some of you immediately chose to defy expectations and become friends. Thank you, America and Marlee, for showing everyone who picks up these books that—even when put in an environment that is created to pit women against each other—friendships can blossom. You never had ulterior motives with each other or gossiped behind each other’s backs. Instead, the two of you represent the best of what female friendship can be: warm, supportive, and life-changing. America, your desperate attempt to save Marlee from being beaten was one of the most moving moments in the entire series. It was a testament to the things women will do to help one another and protect one another. And it was beautiful to see in The Heir that yours became a lifelong friendship, the kind so many women find but so few pieces of media celebrate.

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Fangirl Thursday: We Can Do It!

As we approach the two-month countdown until the January 1 deadline for submissions for The Fan Mail Project (the book of letters to female characters that I’m compiling), I wanted to devote a little time on a Fangirl Thursday to thank all of the fangirls (and fanboys) who have sent in letters so far. Fangirl Thursday posts are usually places to share excitement, so it seems fitting for me to use this post to tell you that there’s nothing like the excitement I feel when I look into my inbox and see a new letter. (There’s also nothing like the tears I cry while reading almost every single beautiful letter, but that’s another story for another post…)

I’ve received letters to characters as varied as Scarlett O’Hara, Cristina Yang, Claire Underwood, and Hermione Granger. These letters are already painting such an amazing portrait of why female representation in the media matters—because, for as diverse as the characters have been, the people who’ve written letters to me so far are even more diverse. It’s been a true pleasure to read your stories, and it’s a true honor to be trusted with sharing this part of you with the world in a way that will make you proud to be involved with this project.

And if you haven’t sent in a letter yet (or you want to send in more), there’s still plenty of time to write! If you’re having trouble settling on a character to write about, here’s a shortlist of much-loved female characters still missing from Fan Mail right now:
• Lorelai/Rory/Emily Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)
• Dana Scully (The X-Files)
• Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)
• Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
• Sarah Walker (Chuck)
• Peggy Carter (Agent Carter)
• Sydney Bristow (Alias—but don’t worry, I’ll be rectifying this one myself soon)
• Arya/Sansa/Brienne/Daenerys/Cersei/etc. (Game of Thrones)
• Zoe/Inara/Kaylee/River (Firefly)
• Natasha Romanoff (Marvel comics/movies)
• Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)
• Regina/Snow/Red/Belle/etc. (Once Upon a Time) (I’ve gotten a couple of letters to Emma so far but could always use more!)

If you’re looking for inspiration, maybe that list can help you get started, but that’s by no means a comprehensive list of characters worth writing about. Choose a character whose story moves you to write—which character do you think of when you need confidence, or when you feel lonely, or when you want to believe things are going to turn out okay? Which character has been a part of your life for so long that you don’t know who you are independent of their influence? Which character helped you navigate the rough waters of high school, or college, or parenthood? That’s who you should write to. And take it from someone who knows—the letter you’re most proud of might be one you never planned to write.

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