I struggle sometimes.
I haphazardly make my way through conversations and academics and life in general, seemingly knowledgeable but truly knowing about 5% of what I'm doing. It's a relatable feeling.
One thing I love about books, young adult especially, is that I can often identify myself in the characters' struggles. I can empathize and understand and learn through protagonists' actions by drawing from my own personal experiences.
Well- most of the time, that is.
As an army brat, or child of a soldier, I find different hardships-- adapting to new communities, loved ones' deployments overseas, defining home, adjusting to life on base vs. life off base -- are absent in novels.
In April, the month of the military child, I had an epiphany
|^Accurate depiction of me having an epiphany.|
To date, I have encountered just one YA fiction featuring an army brat- not without faults in the protagonist's depiction. I felt that much of the character's behaviors, such as describing a curling iron as an "instrument of torture" that could alter basic training as a woman styled her hair, perpetuated false stereotypes regarding elements of the lives of military families.
Somewhat understandably, false tropes regarding army brats are widespread among the few titles, television shows, and movies that feature military children. From my own experience, not many non-military families I've met know much about military kids' lifestyles. I often face difficulties attempting to explain to my classmates why I move and what various branches signify. Consider that this year I told one of my new journalism peers that I formerly attended a middle school on a military post. He mistakenly thought this entailed army brats participating in basic training and military drills alongside soldiers (a big NO).
Problematically, misunderstandings like these are widespread, and continue to become more widespread as the few products featuring military families misconstrue military life.
Clearly, readers need more military kids, realistically described and facing realistic struggles, to both further understand the lives of army brats and other children and connect to these struggles. I want to read about a heroine who moves every couple years. I want her to adjust to her new school and flourish in her new community beyond the 'shy-new-girl-at-school-meets-boyfriend' trope. I want to know how she feels when a loved one deploys overseas; I want her to experience the simultaneous happiness and anxiety approaching a major transition; I want her to interact with other military kids and learn from their experiences; I want her to visit the Commissary and her local Exchange and scan her ID at checkout; I want her to make memories on and off post.
I want a story that truly encapsulates the trials and tribulations of military families.