The Need for Darkness in Books

thoughts orangutan

Since the dawn of literary criticism, there have always been people complaining that books are too dark. Explorations of suicide and mental health in Jude the Obscure and The Sorrows of Young Werther were condemned. Violence in fairy tales was wiped out for centuries and sanitised into Disney-approved remakes. Even themes of death in Hans Christian Anderson’s work were deemed too hopeless for children by the likes of Bettelheim (“The Struggle for Meaning”. The Classic Fairy Tales). HOWEVER there is one subject I increasingly see bashed in books- and that is the presence of bad parents. Now this is not the first– and probably won’t be the last- time I feel compelled to address this topic. Yet that’s because I continually see people arguing for fewer representations of bad parents. Not for more good parents mind- but to get rid of the quote-un-quote abusive parents “trope”.

This. is. not. cool.

Let me get one thing straight: it’s perfectly fine to have limits on what you, as an individual, are able to stomach. Everyone is entitled to consume whatever media or art they wish. However, one thing I think people should be clear on is that not all stories are pretty. Sometimes stories are harsh. Sometimes they are violent. And sometimes they even involve abuse. This is part of the human experience after all.

Two major misconceptions about a lot of abuse stories that I hear is that they’re somehow rare or that their portrayal is “unrealistic”. And my reaction to that is always *wow*- cos people making this criticism don’t realise how unbelievably douchy they sound when they say that. *Shocker*, but it’s kind of awful to complain that you don’t like reading about abusive parents or any other real life horror in books because (and I’m gonna paraphrase the sort of thing I hear a lot) “it’s not my experience”. Well, guess what? It’s *a lot* of people’s experience. I never talk about this on here, but I actually worked for a youth charity for a while and you wouldn’t believe some of the shocking real life stories I’ve heard. And you don’t have to take my word for it either- not only is there a wealth of personal accounts out there, we can also look at the statistics for things that can cause a bad home life. For instance, the percentage of children suffering some form of abuse in the UK is one in five. That is not a low number by any stretch of the imagination. Add in any other issue a child might encounter at home- bereavement, divorce (approx 42% of marriages in the UK end in divorce), economic problems- and you’re looking at a much higher percentage of children experiencing complicated issues. When you think about it this way, it’s no wonder that so many books feature at least one of the above.

cinder and ellaIt’s especially significant to explore such stories, as people who have experienced these situations might find such stories empowering. A great number of novels in this area are very much about discovering bravery and overcoming these obstacles. Stories like Cinderella hold sway for huge numbers of people because they are actually about *empowering* a victim to take control of their life. I actually just watched a fantastic video on how Cinderella frees herself from her abusers- which you can check out here. What can be cool in modern retellings, particularly Cinder and Ella, is the way they explore more modern issues of blended families and complex issues for antagonism towards the heroine. Regardless of the issue, it’s so important to note that there’s an educational element to these stories. We as readers incorporate aspects of that knowledge into our real lives and can learn how to face our biggest fears through books. Darkness, particularly in children’s books, emphasises that meaning is found in life through overcoming difficult circumstances. And as everyone knows, there can be no real catharsis in a story without that.

Alice's_Adventures_in_WonderlandPersonally, I believe that real life friction is a fantastic way to create that sense of tension. Far more so than defeating some faceless, evil entity, there is an educational aspect in characters defeating something more human. Unfortunately, we have to recognise that people are the ones to do evil things. It’s why I am often less drawn to the dehumanised villains (aka the Voldemorts of the world) and far more to the ones with real motivations and human flaws (eg the Dursleys). Sure, I appreciate a good Jaberwocky every now and again, but give me a Red Queen if you want me to be truly terrified.

harry potter and the half blood princeFacing such evils can be hugely character defining. A character working their way through extreme circumstances can give the individual an opportunity to grow and develop. We all know that one of the most satisfying parts of a book can be watching a character evolve. What is brilliant is watching a character be presented with choices and having to find the right path. To draw on Harry Potter again, Harry mirrors both Voldemort and Snape in his miserable background. Yet while they both go on to be baddies- a villain and anti-hero respectively- Harry overcomes his difficult upbringing and becomes the hero that saves the world. Even better, Dudley Dursley gets a redemptive story arc- he too was a product of bad parenting and yet he has to do the arguably more difficult thing of showing remorse for his actions (even if it wasn’t entirely his fault to begin with). In this way, Rowling has given us possibilities of how people can react to negative circumstances. And not only that, she’s given us a clear signpost in the right direction.

the hate u giveThis is not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t celebrate positive role models, but that there has to be room in books to explore some of the darker sides of life. I often see that it’s about balance. When you have, for instance, a story as emotionally fraught as, say, The Hate U Give, it makes perfect sense to me that the book has *fantastic* parent role models (not just the parents, but also the uncle!) In part, it’s just great to have that kind of rep in a book, but also I think it speaks to the strength of the author’s intuitive storytelling style. Too often I see books on hard subjects overladen with horror. Sometimes a novel can have no redemptive features or hint of hope- and that can be too much for a reader. So of course I’m not saying “*only darkness* in books please”- instead consider that sometimes there is a need for at least *some* darkness in books.

Phew- I know that wasn’t exactly the most cheerful topic I’ve covered, but I believe it was a necessary one. What do you think? Do you think there’s room to explore dark topics- especially abusive parents- in books? Let me know in the comments!

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92 thoughts on “The Need for Darkness in Books

  1. Kat Impossible says:

    I love this post! I have my personal limits as well, but that doesn’t meant that I want just happy go lucky people with a positive attitude for all my characters. I want flaws and mistakes made, I want people who are bad because there are bad people in the world. Things don’t always end well, but there can still be hope. I like what you said about balance!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. raistlin0903 says:

    Well…of course there is room for that. If you are not comfortable with reading something that is dark, no matter what the topic is, just don’t read it. It pretty much always comes down to respect again: I certainly would never force anyone to read/watch something that is too dark for their tastes. But if do like to read/watch it, and someone else starts telling me I shouldn’t that’s just wrong. In other words: I think everyone should just read what they want to, and respect other people’s opinions as well.
    Yes the topic wasn’t cheerful, but it was still a great post: so well done! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Grace says:

    How is this even a question or an issue??? Anyone can write a book about anything they want. They can get it published or publish it themselves. And anyone can choose to read it or not read it. As a matter of fact a person can start reading a book and if they don’t like it they can STOP reading it. OMG – what a concept! Write what you please, read what you please. Is there such a thing a censorship before the fact? I may be missing something here because quite honestly I did not read every word of this post – my bad but it’s a tad long and redundant – so basically I’m jusr responding to your last paragraph. If I have misunderstood, let me know.

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I know- it honestly surprises me that this keeps coming up! Exactly! Yes for sure! haha I know right? Totally crazy 😉 hehe fair enough. The reason I bring it up is cos I keep seeing criticism just for the theme of abuse/neglect turning up in books.

      Like

  4. Fadwa @ Word Wonders says:

    THANK. YOU. A few years ago I was one of those people eventhough…One of my parents isn’t the greatest but now it irks me when people deem that kind of content unrealistic. If they have a good relationship with their parents, lucky them. But they’d be surprised how many of us struggle on a daily. Another book I loved that addresses abusive parents is How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. bookbeachbunny says:

    That “it’s not my experience,” line is one I’ve heard people talking about in mental health books as well. I want to be like just because its not your experience doesn’t make it wrong, invalid or anything else. People should write and read what they want. Although I am starting to see the value of books having better (or any warnings) for people who can’t/don’t want to read about certain things. As always excellent topic!

    Liked by 3 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Yeah I’ve seen it for that topic as well. It always bothers me, no matter the context. I can understand that- while I don’t do it myself, I really get why people want it on reviews and I can see how it would be helpful (bit off topic, but there’s plenty of times I feel like I realise while I’m reading a book that if the blurb had been clearer on what it was *actually about* I wouldn’t have picked it up- and then wouldn’t have ended up hating it). Thank you!

      Like

  6. Matthew Wright says:

    Great post! I think books need elements of darkness to make them interesting; otherwise the characters become tropes and the stories shallow. One of the great things about Harry Potter was the way Rowling so finely drew the character; he always seemed to have the potential to ‘go bad’, if he didn’t learn about himself through experience. Just wonderful writing. I think the trend towards complexity and ‘darkness’ of late has been relatively new; back in the twentieth century the real-world horrors of the World Wars was such that popular writing was more escapist than it is now. I am thinking A A Milne and Winnie the Pooh, too, which had such gentle stories and keyed so well into the mood of a shell-shocked 1920s Britain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you! I completely agree. And yes, that’s something that I’m appreciating about Harry Potter more and more, because I didn’t notice when I was younger how prominent that idea is. It really is. That makes a lot of sense. And of course there’s always rooms for books like Winnie the Pooh 😉 (gosh I loved that growing up!) but it doesn’t mean we can’t have some books that are on the other end of the spectrum!

      Like

  7. failingatwriting says:

    Excellent post! I think books that explore these topics are so important, especially for young adults or teens who might be searching for a way to work through feelings about their complicated upbringings or relationships. There’s definitely a place for sunshine-and-daisies depictions of family dynamics, but that’s certainly not a ubiquitous experience. Also, I think that the “absent parent” trope in YA is very important as well (ie Harry Potter) because it’s a helpful metaphor (even for kids with good, present parents) about the necessity of establishing autonomy and coming of age.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. fayekerryfarmer says:

    I think there is a need to explore books with parents that are good but also struggle with some of life`s challenges.
    I think there is not enough books which tell the realities of every parent out there and real situations that that it isn`t always abuse or fairy tale. Sometimes it is just experiences affect you as a person which changes your relationships as you as a person change or develop.

    Like

  9. Ally Writes Things says:

    I feel like there’s a difference between abusive parents being a “trope” and the characters having abusive parents. I think Harry Potter and Cinderella are great examples of the second one, where the main characters have abusive parental figures, but that abuse isn’t the central part of the book (though still an important part). But I don’t think having abusive parents just for the sake of it does any good either.

    I do think there’s room to explore dark topics, especially abusive parents, in fiction and novels, but I also get when people would rather not. Personally, I experience and read a lot of pretty horrible things in my job and school, so when I’m reading for pleasure, I’d rather not be reading about them *again*

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      That’s a fair point- I think that has to do with some books just not being as well executed as they could be. I would rarely call it a trope though as much as saying it was done badly- if that makes sense?

      Yeah absolutely get that. And I really do think that’s totally fair enough. Like I said in the post, I think people should be free to read whatever they want and everyone has their limits on what they want to read. I just don’t agree with the criticism of these things turning up in books.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Ryann the Reader says:

    YES! I’ll admit, I’m a little biased toward darker stories anyway, but like you said, there needs to be room for those stories to be told.

    And I think it’s especially true in children’s stories. If someone is dealing with some of these darker topics, it’s likely that books are one of the only ways to safely explore that topic and learn how to deal with some of those problems.

    Plus, there are plenty of ways to handle a dark topic without making the whole story dark or scary. The Dursleys aren’t necessarily evil or scary, but they give the reader an opportunity to explore the effects of an abusive family.

    I have a lot of feelings about this (obviously) but honestly, I just think that labeling abusive families as a “trope” and watering it down in children’s books does a huge disservice to people who find themselves in those positions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hehe me too, for the most part 😉

      And that’s such a good way to put it and I really agree.

      Yes for sure- I think that’s a great point! The Dursleys aren’t scary in the way Voldemort is, but they are a real threat to him and his happiness (especially in the second book) so they really help explore that theme.

      I really agree with you- I just don’t agree that this sort of thing should be labelled a trope. I was just talking to someone else about it and I think sometimes the issue can be how well it’s done- ie when the parents just so happen to be abusive/neglectful, but it’s never really explored. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s just a trope, it means the author might have failed in their execution if it. And like you said, calling it one does a disservice to people that go through it. Evidently I have a lot to say on the issue too 😉

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  11. Suziey Bravo says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post!! Not every book is for every reader. I’ve noticed a lot of people mentioning their dislike for the “abusive/absent parents trope” around the blogosphere. But it’s like someone above said, just because it hasn’t been your experience, doesn’t make the “trope” invalid.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ola G says:

    Darkness is an undeniable part of life, but my guess is that many people want to escape from the harsher elements of it into books or movies and that’s why they don’t want to see it in their entertainment 😉 That said, it’s actually quite funny they’d use the “unrealistic” argument to rationalize their critique. Sometimes escapist entertainment is just what I need, but I don’t try to dress it up as anything other than that.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Krysta says:

    I think there is a place for darkness in literature. However, I think it needs to have some sort of purpose other than shock value, which often seems to happen. And it needs to be present for some reason other than that the author seems to think darkness and sadness are deep, while hope and happiness are not. Both attitudes can cheapen darkness, instead of using it to depict reality or to make readers think.

    Liked by 3 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Yeah that’s totally fair enough! I think a lot of that comes down to how well it’s executed- and if it just feels like it’s for shock value, then readers will notice. And I think that’s a great point about it cheapening it. A bit off topic, but I see a lot of people putting pressure on themselves to find some darkness in their own lives, just so that they can write about it/I’ve also seen people thinking they can’t write good books cos they’ve not experienced anything really dark (whatever that means- I’m usually inclined to think most people have something). My thoughts on that is it’s always possible to write a happier, lighter book. I think people are just as likely to enjoy it and there will always be a market for both. So yeah, just because I think that there should be room for darkness in books, doesn’t mean I think that books need to be dark all the time, if that makes sense.

      Like

  14. Sarah says:

    Fantastic Post! I love how the book world is exploding and authors are opening up to exploring topics that until a few ago, were deemed too Dark to publish. In the past, just because light wasn’t shined on an issues, doesn’t mean the issues weren’t there. Teens especially need to know they aren’t alone in their experiences, and often books are their only comfort. Dark should definitely be here to stay!

    Like

  15. Marie says:

    This is such a great and important post, I loved it! Thank you for writing it! There are some kind of books I just can’t read, because I know the topics or the way they are handled might be too triggering for me, but I know these kind of books are important, too. It’s important to depict how reality can be, how raw and complicated everything can be, at times, too. Yet, like you said, it’s really all about balance, having some darkness balanced out with hope, too 🙂
    Wonderful post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you! I’m so glad you thought so! And thank you for reading it! I think that’s totally fair enough and, like I said, everyone has their limits and there’s plenty of things I can’t/won’t read. Yeah for sure. Thank you so much again!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf says:

    I love this post. I can’t formulate my thoughts well enough to say why it speaks to me and validates my thoughts on the subject, but it does. People are imperfect, so we can’t expect characters to be perfect.

    Just a small note about THUG: I very much applaud it for showing the more complicated dynamics of mixed families, and I love how great Starr’s biological parents are. I just want to point out that the book does contrast her parents’ positive behavior with Kenya’s parents’ toxic behavior. Some darkness in that realm is there, but it gives more food for thought than making all the parents fit into one ideal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you so much- that means a lot to me. I really agree with you there.

      Yeah I really agree with you- and I did want to point that out too (but that point just didn’t fit into the post so well, if that makes sense) But I thought it was so good that the book didn’t just show a great set of parents and not put any contrast out there. Yes, I really agree- it was one of the things that was done really well in the book

      Like

  17. Cindy says:

    Amazing post! There’s both good and bad in the world and like you I prefer the character with more human flaws. Morally grey characters are interesting to read about because suddenly you’re presented with both sides of the spectrum. However just reading about any kind of darkness, whether or not it’s applicable to you (which it might not be but you’re only one person) truly does bring balance into a story. The world is unfortunately like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. savageddt says:

    ” In the grim dark future there is only war…” these lines opened the genre to grimdark, it is also this line that drew me into the world of warhammer so many years ago. You have many valid points in your post. I am sad or extremely lucky to be able to say that my parents were not abusive. Neither did i grow up in a divorce situation. But i do feel guilty at knowing that there are kids out there that do not know the right kind of love parents can give.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      That’s a great opening line! I don’t think that’s something you should feel sad about or feel guilty for- I think it’s something that everyone should experience, but unfortunately they don’t. And everyone has their baggage regardless- I think it’s just important to acknowledge that.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Alex Page says:

    Great post, you’re spot on.

    Also I think children are often more able to handle complex/dark topics than assumed. Obviously there’s limits and they may need someone to discuss with, but isn’t approaching issues through fiction one of the things school always tells kids that books are good for?

    The latest Dr Who episode was about Rosa Parks/segregation, quite hard-hitting, and I’ve seen a lot of parents comment about opening conversations with their kids from that.

    Like

  20. Kat @ Novels & Waffles says:

    What a great discussion post! I’m glad you brought this up and it is a topic that has actually been on my mind recently, ever since I finished reading The Poppy War. This book was pretty dark and intense, but the author definitely had a reason behind it all. I think that for me, that is a very important part of it – does the author use the dark themes purposefully to prove a point, or are they just doing it for the shock factor? Let’s just put in some really bloody, gory, detailed murder scene here because heck, that’s what sells! No thank you. But including some intense themes as a way to question society? I’m okay with that. Again, thanks for a great post! 🙂

    Like

  21. Kristina Steiner says:

    I absolutely agree with you! We can’t create a “cleaner, easier” version of stories. I believe that books are meant to entertain and educate. You can either relate to something and learn because of that, or you can disagree with something and also learn from that. It’s especially important for children and teenagers. Books need to show them different situations and make them feel.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Randal Eldon Greene says:

    I totally agree with you. I’m writing a novel largely concerned with suicide. And while I haven’t written much in the way of abusive parenting, I just typed up a story today about a fraudster and abusive boyfriend. I’ve got another story (published in Unbroken Journal) with an abusive significant other. While this isn’t my experience, I have seen the effects of bad spouses and bad parenting. As a writer, I observe people, and sometimes I have to write about them, redeem them, or damn them. As you said, this is all a part of the human experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. daleydowning says:

    Hear, hear! This is exactly why I don’t read most Christian fiction – because it has been sanitized to the point of removing any sort of conflict, or even reality, from the story, and not only can I not relate, it’s just plain lame and incredibly tedious to try to read. There HAS to be something that isn’t pleasant in a plot for the characters to grow (or not – as you stated perfectly, seeing how a character doesn’t rise to the challenge makes for great lessons as well). And, yes, absolutely, readers are allowed to decide what they can and can’t handle reading – for example, I often avoid abuse stories, for my own personal threshold, but I still completely support them being on the market – we do NEED them. Yes, it sucks that real life can be so hard – but it would be a MILLION times worse if we buried our heads in the sand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ah that’s a great point- stories that are sanitised to the pint of having no conflict just don’t feel real. Absolutely! Thank you! And that’s totally fair enough- I also have limits and things I don’t/can’t/won’t read. But like you, I don’t think that means they shouldn’t exist (in fact, most of the time I think it’s important the books I won’t read are written about) Yeah for sure. Thank you so much for your comment!

      Like

  24. Janereads says:

    I agree with everything you said. It’s hard to stomach some books with abusive parents because of the level of violence/sadism depicted, but I do think this subject needs to be explored. Some people will relate, but if you can’t then at least you can learn about an experience that is different from your own. I mean, isn’t that why we read books? And all book plots need some form of conflict to be a good story. If everyone is nice and supportive in a book then it’s going to be bland and boring.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Ama says:

    Reading is intended to educate, and even stories about abuse are educational, however upsetting they may be. Readers learn about a side of human nature they may not be familiar with, or if they ARE familiar with it, they can relate and cope by seeing their story is not alone.

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  26. Carrie says:

    I know there are people out there that can’t stomach reading certain topics and needing to steer clear is fine but I get annoyed when a small group wants to limit things for everyone else. Life can sometimes be dark so books need to reflect that and there is no reason to stop it. Even fiction can educate and for those of us who are lucky enough not to have dealt with certain topics in real life we can get a better understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    This is a great post, and I definitely agree with a lot of the things you said as well. There are some things I wouldn’t be comfortable with reading but that’s not to say I want a book full of only positive characters (it’s nice every so often but variety is nice as well) and that’s also not to say it’s not important to have all kinds of representation in books, even the darker sides. 🙂
    Again great post. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Beware Of The Reader says:

    Well I do like some darkness in my books. And reading about something that I don’t experience because ift does not mean that others don’t. And isn’t it one of the purpose to reading books? learn something new? Open our eyes? Be better educated? So thank you for this post!

    Like

  29. Amelia in Hull says:

    I think having dark topics and dark characters in books is fine because that’s what life is like with these dark topics! And obviously people should only read about dark topics that they feel comfortable reading about xx

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  30. Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

    A bit sad that people would voice out a need for less darkness in books. I can understand that they don’t feel comfortable reading about it for whatever personal reason/experience, but if the author decides to include it, then there’s probably a reason for it. There’s a lot to learn from all forms of darkness, but you’re right, it’s about having that balance so that you don’t end up so overwhelmed by your reading experience, especially if you were reading as an escape to whatever life has been throwing at you. I personally love my darkness in all its ugly/beautiful glory. I rejoice in learning from it and doing the opposite. 😀 Awesome post as always! 😉

    Like

  31. thepaperbackpiano says:

    This is a great post! As someone who lost my own mum (a single parent) when I was 6, I find it comforting at times when the characters I’m reading about have experienced similar loss and grief. That’s one of the reasons I loved Small Spaces so much when I read it recently. Life is not all rainbows and sunshine, and we need realistic portrayals. But I also agree that it can’t all be dark and if a story is quite horrific, it’s nice to see some wonderful parents in there to balance it out! Thanks for getting me thinking about this 🙂

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  32. Sarah says:

    Absolutely brilliant post! I really couldn’t agree more – darkness, in whichever form, is part of human life, so excluding it from storytelling completely is not wise. The empowering and educational effects you’ve mentioned are so very important, especially in young readers.
    Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate as much as anyone hilarious comedy and such – ‘Life of Brian’ always has me on the floor roaring with laughter. 😉

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  33. lucindablogs says:

    Totally agree. People are a mixture of good and bad, they make mistakes, they’ve often experienced upsetting/frightening/horrific situations that absolutely should be spoken about. I get so bored with either endless misery or saccharine cuteness – these characters are so one dimensional it’s easy to see exactly where the plots going. Great post! 😊

    Like

  34. Sophia Ismaa says:

    Love this, this is fucking amazing. I totally agree. I remember in the course of my studies, I found that around 50% of sexual abuse young children face is from family members (USA), that alone should show us how dysfunctional and abusive families can be. It is the reality for many and to pretend otherwise would be debilitating for young readers as books are a window to the complexity of the world, we learn through books and representation for all types of families is important. Children can find out they’re not alone. If I had read The Secret Garden at a young age, I would have been relieved.

    I love that THUG gives us a juxtaposition of the ways families (and police officers) can be different (really, this book would be an excellent addition to the school curriculum in so many ways). And to those who complain that painting parents in a harsh light isn’t true and realistic… well, congratulations on your privilege then.

    And agreed about the Dursley’s. Especially Dudley who was a product of his parents spoiling him and should never have received some of the unfair and harsh treatment from Hagrid the way that he did. Which grown arse man gives a child a pig’s tail? And the thing is you can see where Petunia is coming from, that’s painting a realistic villain because human beings are complex at the end of the day. I’m glad Rowling provided a nuanced backstory for them and allowed them some redemption. Especially Dudley.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you so much! Yeah for sure. I think that a lot of data speaks for itself in this regard- unfortunately messed up family situations aren’t as uncommon as people think. Yeah for sure!!

      And I really agree! Especially about how people think that it’s okay to say that it’s wrong to show abusive parents.

      Yeah that’s so true! And absolutely- I really liked that aspect of humanising the Dursleys, cos of all the villains in the books they made the most sense for me. And I was especially glad that she allowed Dudley to mature and change.

      Liked by 1 person

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