I've talked before about what a fan I am of Meg Cabot's book series. Seriously, her books helped make up my formative teenage years, and I'll still happily reread The Princess Diaries anytime the opportunity presents itself. But you know she wrote a ton of novels outside of the Princess Diaries series, right?
Mia Thermopolis is amazing as the most socially awkward princess to ever be crowned, obviously, but Cabot also gave us so many other heroines sure to satisfy all types of readers. Her protagonists were pretty diverse: a mediator, a former pop star-turned-detective, a sullen teenage artist who accidentally saves the President of the United States. If one Cabot series didn't appeal to your specific interests, all you had to do was move along the library shelf until you came to her next one. Casual fans may know Cabot best for the Princess Diaries, but real fans couldn't wait to get their hands on the newest titles in the Queen of Babble or 1-800-WHERE-R-U series.
Your favorite Cabot series says a lot about you not only as a reader, but as a person. What does it mean if you identified more closely with Sam rather than Suze, or if you couldn't get enough of Em's drama? Please allow me to over analyze you below.
You're in the uncomfortable position of still loving the Disney princesses of your childhood but being a bit too cynical to continue to idolize them (is it so hard to be a progressive feminist AND a princess?). Luckily, Mia Thermopolis heard your prayers. She's a real-life princess who's concerned about social and environmental issues. Also, she's awkward and kind of unpopular and couldn't get a date to save her life, even with a crown. She satisfies your latent princess fantasies while still giving you a character you could relate to. You probably felt a great kinship to her during your awkward high school years.
This is my personal favorite set of Cabot books. If you identify with Sam you were probably a failed rebel in high school. You might have thought you were super indie and rebellious and deep, but that was probably a lot of wishful thinking on your part. Not that there's anything wrong with that! Sam learns over the course of the books that challenging the status quo and identifying more with a culture that's outside of her high school's mainstream doesn't necessarily have to make her a social pariah. She also learns that not all "social rebels" necessarily know what they're talking about. This was a lesson I had to learn in high school, lest I fall for the charms of any ill-informed 17-year-old "revolutionaries."
3. The Mediator
You really like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, or Supernatural, don't you? I'm right there with you; this series was sure to catch the eye of anyone who has a soft spot for people who like to kick some supernatural butt. Suze's ability to communicate with ghosts is cool, but you were probably more into her penchant for getting a little aggressive with them when they started problems. I'm going to guess that you still have fantasies about becoming a feminist action heroine who specializes in taking down ghosts and ghouls. You were also probably really pumped for the new all-female Ghostbusters.
Unlike fans of All American Girl who wanted to be rebels, you probably were (or are) a little bit of a rule breaker. A rule breaker with a heart of gold, of course. Jess may have been a bit of a troublemaker, and her relationship with an older boy with a criminal record may have raised some eyebrows from the other characters, but she was still a teenager hell-bent on using her newly acquired physic powers to help those in need. Even if that desire sometimes got her into some dangerous situations. You probably like a little danger in your life, but you're also fiercely loyal and dedicated to doing the right thing (by your own moral code, anyway).
If you love Cabot's "Boy" titles (The Boy Next Door, Boy Meets Girl, and the forthcoming The Boy Is Back ) you were/are an unabashed fan of romantic comedies. And don't let anyone tell you that's not okay! These books are so quintessentially early 2000s, with the plots unfolding over email and instant messenger, that rereading them gives me major nostalgia. Her heroines and love interests are charming, and while the novels could be chalked up as a bit too fluffy by some readers, not every book has to be Infinite Jest. It's totally okay to give yourself a break and enjoy a series that's the literary equivalent of a pint of ice cream: fun, satisfying, and able to be devoured in one sitting.
Reading about Lizzie's ability to somehow fall into the type of life you dream about is pure escapism at its best. Seriously, she was living the post-graduate's dream (with enough downfalls to make her seem relatable). If you love this series, you probably secretly hoped that your post-collegiate life was going to play out like some type of grown-up Mary-Kate and Ashley movie. Let's recap: Lizzie is dumped by her British boyfriend, so she runs off to France, only to meet a more dreamy (and rich) French guy who comes back to New York with her, where she manages to land her dream job. Sure, your life might not quite have worked out like Lizzie's, but a girl can dream!
For all of you amateur sleuths out there, Heather Wells was a godsend. A former star who stepped out of the spotlight when she gained a bit of weight and lost her recording contract, Heather Wells manages to solve crimes and win the heart of the hot PI she works with, all without ever striving to get back her slim figure. Heather Wells fans not only enjoy a bit of intrigue (seriously, you can't love this series without having some sort of soft spot for grisly murders), but they also appreciate a heroine who doesn't force herself to conform to anyone's idea of what "beautiful" means.
A story about a bookish girl who finds herself inside the body of a gorgeous supermodel after a brain transplant? The analysis almost writes itself. If you were an intellectual, averagely popular and attractive girl like Em, you probably at least had a few fantasies about what it would be like to be known for your beauty and popularity. I'll admit to it! Even better, this series gives us wish fulfillment with a twist: Em gets to live the life of a supermodel and realizes that her life as an average girl was even better! Maybe it didn't totally convince you that being famous and beautiful wasn't all it's cracked up to be, but it had to help a little, right?
Images: Walt Disney Pictures