Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Characters That Would Have Sat at My Lunch Table.
I wasn’t terribly popular in elementary and middle school; I was bookish and introverted and not very athletic. I spent a lot more lunches with a book than talking with friends, though I had a few good friends along the way. Things changed when I went to a progressive private high school full of kids who didn’t fit in, in one way or another. The teachers tried hard to build rapport and friendship or at least respect, and it worked — I had friends and was more social for the first time in my life. But I still sometimes preferred to read during lunch!
|Emma Watson as Hermione Granger|
So here are the characters who might have joined me at the lunch table back in my school days:
- Hermione Granger (the Harry Potter series). Hermione would have sat next to me, both of our noses in our books. Believe me, I was just as in love with books, and just as much of a know-it-all in class. And I’d like to think I was as committed as she is to doing what was right, though I never had to face anything close to the same level of adversity. But I think we’d have gotten along famously.
- Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables series) and I would have played make-believe, shared each other’s books and aspirations, and reveled in each other’s vocabulary. I was so like her (minus the mischief, the red hair, and some of the temper), we could have been twins. Definitely kindred spirits! Gilbert might have been a cause for discord later on; I had a book crush on him. But he clearly had no eyes for anyone but Anne, so I would have backed off and been happy for her.
|Megan Followes as Anne Shirley|
- Beth March (Little Women) didn’t go to school; she was too shy and quiet. Which means that if I’d known her, we probably would have liked each other, in a quiet sort of way. I would have looked up to Jo, but I was probably too quiet and timid for Jo.
- Lucy Pevensey (the Chronicles of Narnia). Lucy is loving, loyal, and brave, and she tries to do what’s right — all qualities I admire, and some of which I share. (I wish I were braver.) I would have loved hearing her stories of Narnia (with a more than twinge of envy, it’s true), and I would have truly enjoyed her friendship. Besides, she’s strong enough to hold her own with Hermione and Anne.
- Sara Crewe (A Little Princess). I wasn’t always a happy child; my dad lived a really long way away, so I didn’t see him that often. Even before her own father’s death, Sara was sensitive to other children’s pain — and she, like me and Anne, is imaginative, a dreamer. And like Hermione and Lucy, she does what’s right.
- Meg Murry (the Wrinkle in Time books) is even more of a misfit than I was. I wasn’t nearly as good at math (though I usually got As, I’m no genius), and definitely better at English and social studies, but once she got over her prickly stage a bit, I think we would have gotten along pretty well.
- Menolly (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and other Pern novels) and I would have been friends, I think. She’s much more gifted musically, but I love music and I sing decently, and I would have really looked up to her.
|Detail from Dragonson cover; art by Elizabeth Littman|
- Talia (the Queen’s Own series by Mercedes Lackey) is another book lover, an empath who would never deliberately hurt anyone’s feelings (nor would I.) She’s shy initially, but eventually gets more confidence. I’d like to think I would have tried to befriend her, in her shy stage, and once she opened up, I think we would have been close friends.
- Taran (the Prydain Chronicles) dreams of adventure and noble deeds, like me at that age. He’s a bit more impulsive and gets into significantly more trouble, but he’s one of the few male characters I think would have fit in at our lunch table. Which means we’d have also had Eilonwy; that could have been a problem sometimes, because she’s got a sharp tongue and some of us at the table are sensitive. Still, she mostly aims her barbs at Taran. And she might appreciate some girls to talk with — girls who aren’t all into clothes and fashion. (Hmm, maybe Jo March would have gotten along with us better than I think.)
- Mary Russell (The Beekeeper’s Apprentice). I’m not sure Mary would actually talk with us that often, and when she did, she’d probably be impatient with the dreamers among us. But she’d see Hermione, me, Anne, Sara, and Talia with our noses in our books as often as not. She might prefer to sit at the bookworm’s table than anywhere else.
- Luna Lovegood (the Harry Potter series) would actually have fit in pretty well at my high school in the late 70s — we had a lot of people who were different or eccentric, whether quietly or flamboyantly. And I think Luna would like the company I seem to have gathered at this lunch table. I know I’d like her; she’s a bit eccentric, but she has an uncanny ability to see to the heart of things. And she’s loyal and good.
|Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood|
While I really like all these characters, there are plenty of characters I love who I don’t think would have sat with me for lunch, for one reason or another. Some are too active or boisterous to enjoy sitting with a bunch of (mostly) bookworms. Some have other commitments — Tamora Pierce’s Kel (The Protector of the Small series) has to sit with the other pages, for instance. Some I just can’t picture clearly enough as children. (What can Peter Wimsey have been like? Or Rory Alleyn? Peter was probably a barrel of mischief; Rory somewhat sensitive. But they went to “public”, i.e. private, boys’ boarding schools, so they wouldn’t have been sitting with girls.)
But you know the really funny thing? In sixth grade and in high school, I had several good, close male friends. Yet when I think of characters would actually have sat with me as I was then, only one male character jumped to mind.