The Song of the Lioness Quartet was one of the earliest young adult novels I ever read. They were the books that changed my life. I started to seek out more stories like this, with people like Alanna. I didn’t know why back then because I was probably ten or eleven, but in high school I finally understood. I felt empowered. You can argue about how formulaic YA is nowadays, with the kick-ass female protagonists, but it did so much for me in a time where I lacked confidence (I still do, but am getting better). I’d notice it after reading a book or a series; the way I walked like I had Places To Be and Things To do, the way I held eye contact instead of looking down or away, how my voice shook less when I had to do the dreaded public speaking. I don’t think I would’ve survived half as well as I did if I didn’t have those books with me and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why diversity in fiction is so important.

I remember being in Year 3, eight years old, and Teen Power Inc. being THE BOOKS I coveted because there was an Asian character called Sunny. I felt an instant connection because she was Asian like me, and got so attached that I wanted to change my name to hers, learn Tae-kwon-do, and be just as athletic and smart as she was. The fact that I still remember her, and still hold a special place for her in my heart thirteen years down the road, is a sign in itself about the power of representation.

Good times, man. Good times.

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