Being Unique

Monday, February 29, 2016
Watching the Oscars last night made me think about how all of us are trying to make our statement in the world, and many of us do that by working on being unique. I think it is possibly one of the hardest things to do in a world where people who are truly unique are often criticized, bullied, and in some places–ostracized. But let’s look at it on even a smaller scale. What happens to kids and teens (and even adults) who do not fit the mold of what everyone else is doing? Every once in a while, this person will hit it big somehow--maybe even win an Academy Award. But unfortunately, we don’t have to look too far to find the disappointing and often depressing answer to this question: many of these kids and teens wind up committing suicide or suffer from depression. They are pleading with society to just understand that they are unique, and that this is something to be celebrated.

This is one of my favorite photos of my daughter--she is unique. And of course, I think that because I'm her mother. But I find her struggling with this concept even in preschool--I'm telling her to be herself, and she wants to make sure all her friends like and play with her. I hope that I am teaching her that in a world where everyone expects you to fit in and be like them, it is okay to always think you are “QUEEN OF THE WORLD.” No matter what challenges come your way, you will end the day with your hands above your head, with a song in your heart, and with a love for yourself. I wish this for her in the worst way, and I will work as hard as I can for this to happen.

I also thought I would share a couple of young adult and middle grade books with you that I think do a tremendous job of sharing the stories of unique people. If you haven’t read these yet, then please check them out. If you have read them, then share them with someone who hasn’t.

  • Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher: You only hurt the ones you love. Logan Witherspoon recently discovered that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him. But things start to look up when a new student breezes through the halls of his small-town high school. Sage Hendricks befriends Logan at a time when he no longer trusts or believes in people. Sage has been homeschooled for a number of years and her parents have forbidden her to date anyone, but she won’t tell Logan why. One day, Logan acts on his growing feelings for Sage. Moments later, he wishes he never had. Sage finally discloses her big secret: she’s actually a boy. Enraged, frightened, and feeling betrayed, Logan lashes out at Sage and disowns her. But once Logan comes to terms with what happened, he reaches out to Sage in an attempt to understand her situation. But Logan has no idea how rocky the road back to friendship will be.
  • Tithe by Holly Black: Welcome to the realm of very scary faeries! Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms — a struggle that could very well mean her death.
  • Wringer by Jerry Spinelli: Palmer LaRue is running out of birthdays. For as long as he can remember, he’s dreaded the day he turns ten — the day he’ll take his place beside all the other ten-year-old boys in town, the day he’ll be a wringer. But Palmer doesn’t want to be a wringer. It’s one of the first things he learned about himself and it’s one of the biggest things he has to hide. In Palmer’s town being a wringer is an honor, a tradition passed down from father to son. Palmer can’t stop himself from being a wringer just like he can’t stop himself from growing one year older, just like he can’t stand up to a whole town — right? Newbery Medal winner Jerry Spinelli’s most powerful novel yet is a gripping tale of how one boy learns how not to be afraid.

Wringer, a middle-grade novel, is one of the best books I’ve ever read! The other two are amazing young adult novels. I would love to hear if you’ve read a book with a unique main character. Please share the title below. I would also love any comment about being unique--in your writing or in your life!

Margo L. Dill is a children’s and young adult author of three books: Caught Between Two Curses, Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, and Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire: The Case of the Missing Cookies. You can find out more about Margo and her books at


Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, I read WRINGER, Margo, and loved it, too!

I think many of the really wonderful books for kids celebrate that feeling of uniqueness, of allowing kids to see that being different is not just okay but part of what makes each of us so awesome. :-)

Here are a few MGs I've read (and loved) recently that you might like, too: THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH, COUNTING BY 7S, CHASING SECRETS, ANYWHERE BUT PARADISE, and LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS. All of the MCs are truly unique (which is what makes them all so interesting)!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

How right you are -- there is a fine line between being unique and being to "out there" to be accepted. Thank you for the book recommendations. I've read Wringer but you found two others I've never picked up.

Sioux Roslawski said...

I love Wringer.

I recently read Auggie and Me by R.J. Palacio and went crazy over it.

Go to the library tomorrow ('cause it's too late for a trip to the library today) and check it out.

(It made me cry.)

Margo Dill said...

I will check it out, Sioux!

Wringer--it is one of the best I've read.

Glad that I can recommend a couple others people haven't heard of--especially Brian Katcher--he used to be in my critique group and he is an excellent writer!

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