• Rachel Penate

29 Characters for 29 Years

Updated: Apr 10



Today begins TWENTY-NINE years of life this side of heaven. It’s been a wild & difficult, yet absolutely beautiful year.


In honor of how much this outlet has given back to me & the many, many characters/people I would’ve never encountered without it, I wanted to reminisce on the 29 who’ve taught me a thing or two (this year) about living fully.


(In no particular order…)


1. VIANNE (The Nightingale) taught me how to be courageous for my children.

2. ISABELLE (The Nightingale) exemplified for me the sheer strength & determination of a woman.

3. LAURA JEAN (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) reminded me of what it was like to be a teenager with so much hope for my future.

4. LOUIS ZAMPERINI (Unbroken) showed me the incredible face of human resilience.

5. ELEANOR OLIPHANT (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine) broke my heart and re-built it all in simply being herself.

6. ELIZABETH BENNET was an example of the strong & powerful women that existed far before I did.

7. MICHELLE OBAMA (Becoming) taught me that at the heart of overcoming adversity is someone who just desires a better life for everyone around her.

8-10. MADELINE, CELESTE, & JANE (Big Little Lies) showed me that unlikely heroes are actually incredibly likable.

11. DEYA (A Woman is No Man) gave me a view of the bitter-sweet consequences of standing for change.

12-14. DANI, HANNAH, & AVERY (Beyond the Point) taught me about the incredible power of friendship.

15. ABBY JOHNSON (Unplanned) opened my eyes to both sides of the abortion debate.

16-17. EDWIN & PARKER (Two, Like Me and You) showed me the utter joy & beauty in spontaneity.

18. EBEN (Proof of Heaven) wrecked my heart with God’s love & the beauty of everlasting life.

19. EVELYN HUGO (Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo) taught me about diversity & what it means to pave your own path.

20. MARISOL (Next Year in Havana) showed me what it means to embrace your history.

21-22. OLIVE & ETHAN (The Unhoneymooners) simply made me smile & laugh.

23. HELENA (Recursion) painted the most beautiful picture of a BA scientist who also happens to be a heroine.

24. COUNT ROSTOV (Gentleman in Moscow) taught me that delightful, yet deep & complex, characters still exist, so I can love the crap out of them.

25. NINA HILL (Bookish Life of Nina Hill) gave me permission to be even more bookish & nerdy than I already am.

26. ALL CHARACTERS (from Station Eleven) showed me how different a world without even the simplest of modern conveniences can drastically change our perspectives and priorities.

27. KYA (Where the Crawdad’s Sing) offered me a view into what it means to give so much despite being given so little.

28. CALLA (Simple Wild) taught me that change - in the face of love - can be good & redeeming.

29. LALE (Tattooist of Auschwitz) opened my eyes to the fact that beauty & love can still emerge from even the darkest of places.


I’m truly grateful for the million & one ways literature has changed my life and the million & one ways it will continue to.


I can’t wait to see who I meet this next year! CHEERS to 29!!

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