My Personal Thank You to Claudia Gray
Almost 14 years ago, my first daughter was born nearly three months premature. At 1 pound, 13 ounces, her survival was anything but guaranteed. She faced heart issues and had a bleed in her brain. The doctors informed us that if she lived, she would most likely have physical setbacks as well as mental disabilities due to the internal bleeding. As any parent can attest, we were just thankful that she had come into our lives and didn’t care what the future held.
Today Emma is an honor roll student with no physical handicaps.
In addition, she works for the school newspaper, plays piano quite well, and is a huge fan of the Star Wars saga. The thing is, she’s just not like other kids her age. Social media means nothing to her, and she has made it clear that boys are not on the agenda until she is at least in college. Emma simply sees life from a different perspective than the rest of us. While we are all bogged down in the minute details of day-to-day living, she witnesses the beauty of what it is to be alive. As we stress about anything and everything, there is Emma, just looking for snow owls.
Early on in Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray, young Leia Organa meets some fellow Apprentice Legislature members who would be accompanying her on an expedition up one of Alderaan’s most well-known mountains. One such member, a human girl about Leia’s age, was described as having green hair and wore pink goggles and “a rainbow of bright colors that clashed so painfully Leia had to fight the urge to squint.” Her name was Amilyn Holdo of Gatalenta…and Amilyn is Emma.
I say this because Amilyn’s personality and outlook on life closely matches my daughter’s. During their dangerous trek, while other members of the team were succumbing to stress, fatigue and injury, Amilyn was peacefully looking for snow owls. When asked why she was looking for these birds, Amilyn replied with, “Why wouldn’t I look for snow owls?” That response is Emma through in through.
I am writing this “thank you” to Claudia Gray because girls like my daughter need literary characters to whom they can relate. Fathers such as myself want our daughters to feel empowered, to know that they can accomplish anything they desire with enough grit and determination. We as parents must recognize however that not every girl is going to grow up to be Princess Leia or Padme Amidala — and that’s not a bad thing. Young women like Emma or Amilyn can have a positive impact on the world or the galaxy, and they can do so in their own unique way. They should be proud to be who they are.
There is something for all of us to learn here as well. Considering it appears Amilyn Holdo will be serving Leia Organa’s Resistance in The Last Jedi, we should all heed Bail Organa’s words about people we feel are “odd.”
“…don’t be too quick to write people off. Sometimes they can surprise you.”
Star Wars — Leia: Princess of Alderaan is available now though Disney-Lucasfilm Press.