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19 Of The Best Main Characters We’ve Gotten To Know In 2022

BuzzFeed
BuzzFeed
 2022-11-29

1. Kiki Banjo from Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

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If you're a student at Whitewell University and want all the tea on the dating scene, then you probably tune in religiously to Brown Sugar . Kiki Banjo hosts the popular student radio show where she powerfully and sharply encourages the women of the African-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University to leave the low-life men alone as they maneuver around the messiness and ridiculousness that comes along with college dating. Kiki is confident and strong-minded, which is why she’s so trusted by her friends and radio audience. But when Kiki forgets to take her own advice, things take a sharp turn left, and a messy, yet humorous, ride ensues.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound . You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

William Morrow & Company

2. Sam Masur and Sadie Green from Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

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Gaming and intimacy help childhood friends Sam and Sadie become a powerful duo. Spanning across 30 years, Sam and Sadie disconnect during adolescence and reconnect while in college. They work together and design a video game that becomes a blockbuster. Their success is joined with fame, wealth, and tragedy. The love they share with one another is strong, and the story is beautiful, but they never officially date. Both are smart and passionate, and their differences combine to ultimately change the world around them and the gaming landscape.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Knopf Publishing Group

3. London Kelley from The Hookup Plan by Farrah Rochon

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Even as a resident, workaholic London Kelley has created a notable career for herself as a pediatric surgeon. A hookup that no one saw coming with millionaire Drew Sullivan, who also happens to be her long-time arch-nemesis, gives London a run for her money. In this journey full of intriguing characters, the character development of London is irresistible as she navigates her friendships, family, and an unexpected relationship that could possibly put her career on the line. As readers begin to empathize with London, how she grows and softens in the best ways is worth discussing.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound . You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Forever

4. Ray McMillian from The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

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Ray McMillian is a dreamer who pressures readers not to give up on their ambitions even when outside circumstances don’t look so promising. Ray dreams of becoming a professional violinist. All odds are against him while faced with racism in rural North Carolina, a mother who fails to understand his dream, and not enough money to afford a proper violin. When he discovers the family violin is in fact an exquisite Stradivarius, things finally begin to align, and he becomes a household name for his musical gift. He’s set to perform at a prestigious competition, but his violin is stolen, and he’s left with a ransom note. Ray managed to create a name for himself without having the support of his family, but now, he has much to prove as he sets out to find who stole his violin.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound . You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Anchor Books

5. Callie Dressler from Typecast by Andrea J. Stein

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Typecast introduces us to Callie Dressler. She’s comfortable in her skin and works as a passionate preschool teacher, but has a stagnant dating life. Her seemingly normal life flips when her sister, along with her husband and daughter, have to move in with Callie due to their home being renovated — oh, and she learns her ex-boyfriend from college whom she hasn’t seen in nearly a decade, Ethan, has a movie coming out about their breakup. This has Callie facing buried emotions about her true feelings for Ethan. And if that’s not enough, something is definitely brewing with her sister’s architect, Ben. Callie is wise, knows what she wants, and has a sense of humor you can’t help but love; however, the most remarkable thing readers get to witness about this main character is her journey of coming to terms with herself to make amends with the past.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound.

Girl Friday Books

6. Bird Gardner from Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

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This heartbreaking exploration of tyranny in a future dystopian America follows Bird Gardner. At 12 years old, his world is enforced by laws designed to preserve American culture, and terrible things happen to those who go against it — those people being labeled as dissidents. He lives with his father who is a linguist and works at a library where unpatriotic books are removed. He grew resentment toward his poet mother, who was also a dissident, after her disappearance when he was 9. Bird’s heart opens up overtime as his admirable curiosity and determination grows to understand his mother and her work. A journey ensues to find her that engulfs healing, acts of injustice, and some seriously heartbreaking discoveries.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound . You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Penguin Press

7. Zharie from The Undead Truth of Us by Britney Lewis

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Sixteen-year-old Zharie thinks her mother turned into a zombie before her death. And it’s no coincidence that she’s seeing zombies all of a sudden, right? When a cute boy moves into her building, Zharie immediately wants nothing to do with him — that is until she witnesses him morph into half zombie. He could be the leeway to answers about her mother’s death, but at what cost? This suspenseful read with a hint of teenage romance unlocks what it takes to heal and face truths that one may not be ready for. Although young, Zharie is extremely hopeful and moves with curiosity to come face-to-face with her grief in order to rediscover herself.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Disney-Hyperion

8. Jess from The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

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Needing a fresh start, Jess arrives at her brother Ben’s Paris apartment only to find him missing and his cat with blood on its paw. Jess is smart and resourceful as she works to find Ben. At times, she served as a well-needed break from Ben’s sketchy neighbors and acquaintances who were her only sources for uncovering her brother's whereabouts — although they’re barely any help. Told from multiple perspectives, readers get a solid idea of what Jess is in for as several secrets, surprises, and twists are foreshadowed. Jess has already been through some setbacks, so she doesn’t hesitate to stand against anything that comes against her while searching for her brother.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

William Morrow & Company

9. Elizabeth Zott from Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

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Beginning in the 1960s, Elizabeth Zott is a talented chemist who’s completely sure of herself and not afraid to snap when necessary, which can cause trouble in a male-dominant field with men who have their own opposing views of gender equality, all except for one man, Calvin Evans. Fast-forward, and she’s a single mother and an out-of-the-box cooking show host who many women look up to for the way that she challenges them to challenge the world where sexism is running rampant. Elizabeth is a standout character and pushes the boundaries that women are expected to abide by in this witty yet important read.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Doubleday Books

10. Malak, Kees, and Jenna from These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany

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Childhood friends Malak, Kees, and Jenna have always had each other’s backs when it came to living the alternate life that would be frowned upon by their Muslim parents. Their lives of rebellion were fun while they were young, but as they get older, conviction and the pressure to be a “good” Muslim woman weighs heavy on each of them. Once inseparable, each is beginning to drift toward their own paths in womanhood to discover themselves as they navigate friendship, love, religion, and sex. Malak, Kees, and Jenna are lovable and relatable characters with stories that readers can cry, laugh, and feel for.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via I ndiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Grand Central Publishing

11. Cami from It Started with a Dance by Tinia Montford

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Cami is a passionate dancer entering her senior year of college and just learned she has a chronic illness. Marsh is a frat boy dealing with his own trauma and needs credits from a ballroom dancing class, but he’s a horrible dancer. The annual dance festival where talent agencies tend to recruit is coming up, and this is Cami’s big chance to make her dream a reality. While at a party, the two strangers make a deal to help each other out and enter a fake relationship. The only problem is sometimes it doesn’t feel so fake. Cami is sweet, kind, and a walking burst of light with contagious energy.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound .

735 Emerald Press

12. Nora Stephens from Book Lovers by Emily Henry

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Nora is a book lover and cutthroat literary agent who takes pride in the hustle of her everyday life. Charlie is a book editor and also Nora’s arch-nemesis, partly because he turned down one of her client’s books. The two later coincidently end up in the same small town when Nora is persuaded to go on a sisters’ trip. Nora and Charlie constantly, and annoyingly, bump into each other, but soon, chemistry sparks. Family challenges and a bubbling romance with someone she’s loathed for years send Nora into a frenzy as she questions whether a happy ending is a part of her story.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound . You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Berkley Books

13. Mungo from Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

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Teenager Mungo resides in a housing estate in Glasgow and battles with his sexual identity. He befriends James, and the two later fall in love. Now, he has to work hard to keep this under the radar, especially from his brother who has a brutal reputation. The story also follows an excursion Mungo is sent on by his alcoholic mother with two strange men. Mungo longs for a world where he’s free to fearlessly love who he loves without backlash. This coming-of-age story is filled with heartbreak and tender love.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound . You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm .

Grove Press

14. Malaya Clondon from Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

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At 8 years old, Malaya was dragged to Weight Watchers meetings by her mother. Faced with gentrification in Harlem and a family that intensely pressures her to fit their expectations, Malaya must learn what it means to take up space in a world where she’s grown accustomed to shrinking herself, but on her own terms. This coming-of-age novel has an addicting protagonist who gracefully handles life’s struggles as she unburdens others' ideas of who she is and discovers it for herself.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Liveright Publishing Corporation

15. Cara Romero from How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz

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After losing the job that she’s held for decades, Cara Romero finds herself sitting with a job counselor where she unpacks the entirety of her life. Readers learn of love affairs, the aftermath of loss, generational trauma, an estranged son, and more. Each story, though the emotions are high at times, unpacks who she is at the core. As an immigrant mother, the details of her life reflect her struggles in attempting to make the best of a world that has counted her out numerous times. Cara proves she’s had a lot to overcome throughout her life of bliss and pain, but she’s not done yet.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Flatiron Books

16. Yinka from Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

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Yinka is such a lovable character in this heartfelt story. She has made a great living for herself, but her Nigerian mother and aunties are still praying for her to leave her life of singleness. Yinka on the other hand is in no rush and trusts that the right guy will find her. With her cousin’s engagement, she’s on a mission to find a date who could also by some miracle be her husband. But what if she ends up finding herself instead?

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

Pamela Dorman Books

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