Last week I made a discovery while reading a book entitled Looking for La La: I have trouble with stories that have a messy protagonist. When I say "messy", I'm talking about a lead character who can't seem to pull his or her life together to the point. The heroine of this book, Cathy, was a stay-at-home mum who wasn't much of a housekeeper or a cook. She wasn't very good at the parenting bits like keeping up with the kids' field trips and such. Up to this point, I could identify with her. However, she also had a penchant for lying for no good reason and drinking every day to the point of falling down. The lying and the drinking, combined with the other stuff, made me wonder what Cathy's husband and friends actually see in her. The sloppiness is meant
A protagonist doesn't have to be perfect for me to read a book. However, since I read for enjoyment, I want to see a messy protagonist discover more about herself and start to make positive changes. With Looking for La La, the story ended happily but I never got the feeling that Cathy learned anything. Her lies got her in trouble a lot throughout the story, but everyone forgives her in the end without her really doing anything to earn it. All her friends have major life moments all around her, but Cathy ends up where she started with a messy house and no job.
I guess what I'm saying is that I like to see growth in the main character. Even though I know that the books I choose are escapist , it is still encouraging to me when the characters find their way. Stories of growth and redemption, however unrealistic, make me optimistic about improving aspects of my own life.