Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza
YA Contemporary Fiction, Mental Health
Hardcover, 368 pages
Kat has anxiety; she counts obscure things in her head to calm herself down and avoid a panic attack. Meg has ADHD and despite her overly self-confident front, she fears being alone and unloved. They partner up for a science project and considering how totally opposite they seem from one another, things aren’t looking so good. But when they discover the key to their compatibility–a famous YouTube gamer who goes by the username LumberLegs–a beautiful friendship begins to bloom.
I am totally loving how social media–despite its very many reasonable flaws–and its ability to bring people together is becoming a popular trope in teen literature. Not just because it’s cool, but because it is reflective of our current generation.
I’m currently enrolled in an Emerging Literacies course in which we study and discuss how to effectively and creatively use technology, digital platforms, and social media in libraries so as to promote all forms of literacies and global education. While inherently focused on the good of social networking, we also have to take a look at some of the not-so-good. This week we had to read an article about how smartphones are destroying our youth which sadly rings true in a lot of ways [article].
I do believe that social media has some negative effects, often resulting in weak communication skills, laziness, and just general unhappiness. But there is a lot of good that comes with being a part of the digital era that I can attest to and many of you can attest to as well.
Kat and Meg don’t meet over social media or texting, but they find common ground in their favorite video game, Legends of the Stone (LotS) and their favorite LotS gamer, Lumberlegs. I have met so many wonderful human beings via instagram and blogging as a result of our love for reading. How beautiful is that? In a world where social networking is becoming monetized and business-centric, it is a relief that we are still able to use it to connect with people all over the world in personal and meaningful ways.
Kat is a wonderful character and I definitely related to her the most. I am not prone to panic disorders, but I generally have those kinds of inner moments of anxiety during which I question every little thing and worry about what others might think of me. At the risk of sounding offensive, I found her to be a bearable character with anxiety disorder. I was never frustrated, annoyed, or impatient with her. I understood her every step of the way and found myself counting with her to relax. She is sweet and loves her family to pieces, particularly her older brother who is away at college and her insightful grandfather who she now lives closer to. She feels genuinely guilty whenever her mom gives her an out so she doesn’t have to partake in whatever crazy thing Meg wants to do which terrifies her. Her need for control over their shared science project is exactly me whenever I have to work with a partner or group in class!
I was put off by Meg–not because of her ADHD, but because of her actions and how she treated some of those around her (Kat included). Regardless, I understood her and why she felt and responded the way she did to those who made her feel “unlovable.”
In understanding my opinion of Meg, I have thought more about what it means to accept a person with any sort of special need, mental illness or disorder. You accept them merely because they are a human being. Regardless of ability (sexuality, race, religion, gender, etc.), no one is worth less than another person.
There is a difference between justification and explanation. Meg’s ADHD doesn’t justify her selfishness and being inconsiderate of other’s feelings. But it does help to explain her extreme passion for her personal interests which sometimes leads her to forget that not everyone shares the sames feelings she has.
Meg is loving, sociable and hilarious. But she is also hard-headed, stubborn and hard to please at times. She is deeply insecure with an amazingly confident exterior. I think I might have a hard time being her friend, not because I’d have to “deal with her,” but because our self-interests and opinions on certain matters wouldn’t always line up.
Her dependence on male companionship (especially with LumberLegs) is frustrating, but I get that it’s her trying to convince her brain that she can succeed in relationships–that she is worthy of love and attention–a personal issue which is rooted in her challenging relationship with her step-father, whom she is convinced does not love her as much as he loves his biological kids (her half-siblings, which she cutely refers to as halflings).
I do think Meg succeeds in her friendship with Kat, who reminds her to do all those things that are important in a well-balanced friendship: to put others before yourself, to remember that even your closest friend won’t always share your opinions, and to help one another grow to overcome personal boundaries in safe and healthy ways. Over time, Meg aligns with Kat beautifully, helping her get past her anxiety and it’s that side of her that I deeply appreciate in a friend.
Verdict: A truly 21st century story that reminds us that video games and social media are still awesome and that your soul mate can be your best friend. I adored this story.