John Green describes his fictional role model

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss an interview with young adult author John Green….

My kids introduced me to John Green (pictured above) about 10 years ago and I’ve been an enormous fan ever since. I think his 2014 novel, The Fault In Our Stars, is one of the best pieces of young adult fiction I’ve ever read and I love the sophisticated (and not-so-sophisticated) humour in the Vlog Brothers YouTube channel he runs with his brother Frank.

As a result, I was extra-interested when my reader and friend Fran Gerb sent me a link to an interview of Frank by Melinda Gates.

I found Melinda’s questions slightly fawning and sycophantic (I like to think I’d have been more measured if conducting such an interview — although, maybe not.) But Green’s answers were fascinating. I like the way he provided a list of novels for teens facing mental health issues and I particularly appreciated his answer to a question about his favourite role model in fiction.

His fave was Huckleberry Finn. Here is how Green puts it

There’s a moment in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn where Huck is trying to decide whether to turn in his friend, Jim, who has bravely escaped slavery. Huck believes in the social norms he’s been taught—that it’s wrong to help Jim escape. In fact, Huck believes that he will be damned to hell for all eternity if he doesn’t turn Jim in. And after struggling with his conscience, Huck says at last, “All right, then. I’ll go to hell,” and decides not to turn Jim in. By overcoming the warped conscience of his social order, Huck becomes a hero. I wish for the courage that both Jim and Huck show in that novel.

Isn’t that lovely?

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on May 13/19.

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