in Paris, France:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row…
We point at their graves, know that they made the greatest sacrifice possible, and call them heroes. But what does that mean?
No really. There is the Merriam-Webster definition stating that a hero is a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. But any language is an ever evolving beast not caring the least for dictionary definitions. It’s alive, a tool shaped by and shaping our culture (each language its own of course, what means that learning a language is a far bigger task than memorizing vocabulary). The way we use the word hero today – yes, what is that way?
Pop stars, actors/ actresses, athletes, winners of casting shows, reality TV participants, beauty queens & kings, and attention seekers – our heroes today? Should we add a show element to the definition because an achievement is nothing without the right promotion, courage hasn’t happened without a Twitpic, noble qualities pale behind the right looks and moves?
I turned to some of my most favorite YA books to line up some heroes and heroines the way they are represented to us by their authors while waving their tales. It’s a diverse collection as we need diversity to keep our view of the world wide and open, but not yet as diverse as it could and should be. I stuck to very recent titles since I pondered our concept of heroes today, and where I didn’t I give an explanation as to why I put the title on the list nevertheless.
Amy Plum’s Die For Me series – At this place it is my pleasure and honor to thank Amy for accepting my dare and doing the From Berlin With Love art attack in Paris with these bags and sending me the photos. (And thank you to Tara Hudson who helped her with it.)
C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia – The Irish C. S. Lewis volunteered for the British Army in WWI, arrived in the Somme valley in France at his 19th birthday and experienced there trench warfare. He could have been one of the heroes under the crosses long before he had a chance to use his talents to give us Narnia. He created for Edward a great redemption story proving that even a hero can start out with wrong decisions.
Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time – A line is not the shortest distance between two points and thus talking WWI and today is not really talking about two different, unconnected things.
Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity
Anthony John’s Five Flavors of Dumb
Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series
Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown