“Top 5 Wednesday” is a weekly meme currently hosted on Goodreads by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes, where you list your top 5 for the week’s chosen topic. This week’s topic is: Book list for a class on (Genre/Trope/etc). After a panicky, “Oh god, it’s 12 AM and I haven’t chosen a topic yet,” I ended up taking the “class” part literally and choosing developmental psychology.
So, you can find examples of developmental psychology in pretty much all books. But I tried to pick (fiction) books that focus on children and how the actions of adults affect their developmental process–for better or worse, but in the case of this list, for the worse.
Does that make senses? I don’t know. It’s late, I’m tired, and I’m writing the post at the very last minute, so I may find this is all gibberish when I re-read it in the morning. Oh, the joys of not doing proper planning!
1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Jemisin’s brilliant award-winning fantasy series explores prejudice and subjugation and the ways that they mold children into ugly, jagged shapes. We see how the hatred and fear of orogenes have driven Essun, our main character, to cynicism and ruthless pragmatism, which she then later passes onto her own daughter. There are no good parents in the world–we get parents who are trying their best with a script that was written for them, and parents who are just plain terrible. Either way, it’s the children who bear the brunt of their hatreds and various other demons.
2. Warchild by Karin Lowachee
Grief and memories of abuse are the main things that our main character Jos Musey carries with him as he grows up from a traumatized young orphan to a slightly-better-but-still-traumatized teenage soldier. The adults around him range from brutal and exploitative to cold and distant, so it’s no wonder he develops massive issues with trust and emotional vulnerability, both of which Lowachee depicts with incredible care and deftness. Warchild offers one of the best examinations PTSD I’ve ever read in sci-fi/fantasy.
3. Animorphs Series by Christina Applegate
Don’t let the perky synopses (and the god-awful covers) fool you. Animorphs isn’t an epic scifi adventure about a group of shapeshifting kids who band together to fight aliens. Well…I mean, it is, but it’s also about war and its many psychological horrors–you get scenes of kids getting tortured and murdered in gruesome ways, kids being forced to kill, and kids suffering from PTSD among other things. It’s incredible how well these books tackle the long-term developmental effects such trials have on these characters. (And I still can’t believe it managed to get published as a children’s series.)
4. A List of Cages by Robin Roe
A List of Cages is a beautiful story that explores child abuse and the way that abusers manipulate their victims into believing they deserve this treatment. Roe’s portrayal of Julian and his struggles is at once heartbreaking and skin-crawling.
5. The Farseer Books by Robin Hobb
Am I ever going to pass up an opportunity to talk about this series? Nope!
Hobb is not only a master of character development, she’s a master of long-term character development. With her Farseer books, we see how abandonment and rejection can permanently hinder a child’s emotional growth. With pretty much everything that FitzChivalry does as an adult, you can trace the origins right back to his tumultuous childhood. (Fun fact: I wrote an extra credit paper for a 4th year psychology class analyzing the development process of this very character. My grade didn’t need to be bumped up so it was completely unnecessary, but I had a blast writing it.)
Note to self: Make the next T5W just a tad less gloomy.