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Stories from BOA Readers: #BOATurns40

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Molly Mayfield | Rochester, NY

I’ve always been drawn to books that revolve around strong characters rather than plot. My favorite authors are the ones who are able to create people out of thin air, and characterize them in ways that make me feel like I know them personally. I liked the characters that stuck out, the ones that were far from perfect. I wanted characters that I could relate to, especially when navigating my teenage years. I needed to read about people who didn’t have everything figured out, people who doubted their abilities as much as I did. That being said, I think a character that especially stuck out to me growing up was Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Cliché, I know, but I loved how much I hated him. I’ll never forget how my classmates would rip him to shreds in our discussion circles, referring to him as whiny and self-centered. Which he totally is, but who isn’t at 16? I know I certainly was, and I know of a lot of people who still are. Even though Holden was… well, “unpleasant,” I’ll never forget how hard he tried to protect the innocent. How in the end, he was just a modern day Peter Pan, nothing but a boy scared of growing up.

I found sanctuary in my books, and I wanted to stay in their worlds forever. This longing to escape paved my way to art school, where I was able to create my own stories and my own worlds and share them with people for the first time. It was in art school where I started experimenting with the idea of 3D illustration, or creating sculptural installations of my favorite stories, so that people had the opportunity to walk into their favorite scenes. I wanted to recreate that feeling of falling into someone else’s words, but this time with something physical, something real that you can see in front of you and be a part of. I guess, in short, my ideal reading experience is a book that forces you to love the damaged, a book that makes you want to stay.

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