The Growth of Sookie

Fans all over anxiously await the release of the latest Southern Vampire Mysteries book, “Dead Reckoning” in less than forty-eight hours. Countless of reviews of the book have fans practically begging for more. With comments such as:

“a sequence of scenes that are right up there with the most gut-wrenching, emotionally intense, and seriously fracking HOT in the series – well worth the price of admission, all on their own.” (via Sookieverseblog)

As well as:

“a Vampire queen has her eyes on Eric, the right to claim him and the paperwork to prove it.” (via Walmart’s Review)

Fans are practically dying to know what is in store for their favorite fair-haired telepath and the residents of Area Five.

Speaking of our telepathic heroine, Sookie Stackhouse grown in the “eighteen months” that the ten books of the series covers (those as with a few other characters, Sookie’s age doesn’t coincide with the “timeline” of the books). So for the next few days, I will be discussing the changes and the ways in which Sookie has grown, as a character and how the events within the series have further shaped her.

Before the books

The series starts with naive, innocent Sookie, who is basically the girl next door and just your average twenty-five year old, with the exception of her “disability”. It is safe to say that Sookie’s life before the beginning was boring. Though, one of the quirks that makes her such a likable character, is her love of her life and the simple pleasures it has to offer her. She’s rarely quick to take anything for granted. It’s clear to see how those around her have shaped her into the woman she has become, foremost her grandmother, Adele Stackhouse.

Throughout the books, bits an pieces about her life prior to Dead Until Dark are revealed, though most are not thoroughly discussed. Just as with real people, Charlaine Harris has done a great job of giving us these bits and pieces to help understand how one’s past helps shape them as a person.

Sookie explains in Dead Until Dark, that her parents were killed during a flash flood. Their car was caught on a bridge and swept away by the rushing water. This event was both devastating as well as a blessing in disguise for the telepathic child. While of course her parents loved her, their ability to be supportive and understanding to a “special” child, proved to be difficult. Toss into the mix, the tiny streak of fairy in her father’s blood and what is already a stressful situation, because nearly impossible. Sookie later describes her mother as:

“My mother had known how to be a good mother theoretically. She knew how a good mother acted toward her children. She’d made herself go through all the motions. But all her true love had been saved for my father, who’d been bemused by the intensity of her passion. I could see that now, as an adult. As a child, I’d been confused and hurt.” – Sookie Stackhouse From Dead to Worse

Imagine the effect this knowledge would have on young Sookie, let alone had she been exposed to that for the remainder of her childhood. Luckily, after the death of her parents, Sookie and Jason were taken in by their grandmother. It is clear throughout the entire series that this single act was significant in the shaping of Sookie’s character. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that Sookie idolizes her grandmother. A fact that is proven time and time again as Sookie retreats within herself and contemplates how her grandmother would handle a situation or what she would think of Sookie’s actions.

Another event in Sookie’s childhood that further affects her later on is having an uncle who was too “fond” of little girls. Adele, who was more observant than either of Sookie’s parents and clearly more open-minded, is the savior in this situation. Forbidding her own brother, Bartlett, from returning to her home and disowning him for the remainder of her life. This act helps begin to explain some of the distance between Jason and Sookie. Jason, unaware of the situation at hand, blamed Sookie for the loss of his only male influence, a wound that remains even in adulthood.

Growing up as a telepath was difficult for Sookie. She explained her school years as being confusing, overwhelming and exhausting. Unfamiliar with being able to block out the minds of others, Sookie was exposed to the thoughts of her classmates and teachers. The only time she had a sense of relief throughout the school day was when there was a test involved. Of course, her older cousin, Hadley, didn’t help matters much. Just a few years older, one can assume Sookie looked up to her cousin and maybe idolized her. Hadley, in return, proceeded to join in the ranks of the other children in mocking and teasing Sookie, thus straining any chances for them to reconcile as adults. While Hadley was cruel to Sookie, Jason was easily the big man on campus, in school. Excelling in sports and being a ladies man, Jason was popular and a tad bit rebellious as a teenager.

As an adult, Sookie chose to enter the workforce instead of attempting to receive a higher education. She eludes to several jobs in which she was forced to quit due to her ability to read her boss’ minds. It is in her early 20’s, that Sookie finds her permanent employment at newcomer, Sam Merlotte’s new establishment, Merlotte’s Bar & Grill. By this point in time, only Sookie and her grandmother reside her family’s old farmhouse, with Jason residing in their parent’s home. Her days filled with shifts at Merlotte’s, chores, spending time with her grandmother, sometimes with Jason, Arlene or Tara and countless hours laying in the sun… her one self-indulgence. Until that fateful night when she met her very first Vampire…