We love an outsider

Tell The Wolves I'm Home is about June Elbus, a 14 year old girl who feels alone. Nobody at school or home understands her apart from her uncle, who is a painter. He's her best and only friend, so when he dies unexpectantly June feels completely lost and doesn't have anyone to talk to.

However, at the funeral she notices a strange man standing behind the crowd and soon the pair start spending time together and they help eachother to grieve. June soon realises that she might need the friendship of this stranger more than she realises...

Carol Rifka Brunt - tell the wolves I'm home

Fiction is filled with outsider characters—loners and geeks and rebels—so I thought it would be pretty easy to come up with a list of ten outsider girls. I was surprised to find that, actually, it was a bit of a challenge. It seems that in the world of outsiders, boys are represented way more often than girls. Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye, Charlie from Perks of Being A Wallflower, Christopher Boone from Curious Incident, Bastian from The Neverending Story, etc., etc. In the end I expanded my search to include teen girl outsiders from book, film and television.

My own novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, is told through the voice of 14-year old June Elbus. June likes to go out into the woods and pretend she’s a girl from medieval times. She joins church choirs so she can sing in Latin. Her best (and pretty much only) friend is her uncle, a painter in the city. She also has a collection of Choose Your Own Adventure books, only wears skirts and dreams of becoming a falconer when she grows up. June is definitely the geeky sort of outsider, but outsiders come in all different varieties.

Here are a few of my favourite outsider girls:

10. Enid from Ghost World

I love everything about Ghost World. I’m talking mainly about the film version here. I love the quippy, sarcastic dialogue. I love that it’s a film about remaining true to your outsider self, even as you grow up and the people around you start to give in to more mainstream ways of living. Enid is the holdout. The one who refuses to compromise. “These are our people,” Enid says, pointing to some oddballs in a coffee shop. And you, Enid, are my people.

9. Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Scout is the classic tomboy outsider. She’s curious, brave and, like all the best rebels, perplexed and angered by the injustice she sees in the world. I love the tough innocence of Scout and I love her growing curiosity and empathy for the more extreme outsider in her neighbourhood, Boo Radley.

7. Lyra Belaqua from the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

Lyra is the ‘child in the world of adults’ outsider. She’s smart, observant, brave and willing to get to the bottom of a mystery. But she must also be lonely. Her one close child friend, Roger, disappears early in the first book, leaving her more alone than ever. Over the course of her journey she gathers a crew of big-time outsiders around her, including Iorek Byrnison, a loner armored polar bear banished from his community.

6. Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life

Rayanne is the kind of outsider that spells trouble. She’s the dark side of Angela Chase’s friendship group. The one whose own self destructive tendencies seem always on the edge of toppling the stability of those around her. As an observer we feel like we want to take care of Rayanne, to give her the boundaries that haven’t been drawn by her own mother, but at the same time we want her to take care of herself. We want her to be a little bit stronger. Maybe the best thing about Rayanne is the way she forces her friends to see parts of the world they don’t want to see.


Click next for Carol's Top 10 outsider gals >>