Rany Jazayerli reflects on his early discovery of Ender’s Game, what it taught him about empathy and about himself, feeling isolated as a young Muslim in the Midwest. And it’s the characters’ empathy that made the anti-gay views of the book’s author, Orson Scott Card, so troubling:

That endless loneliness is what makes it so easy to root for Ender. Card is so deeply sympathetic, so deeply empathetic to Ender’s plight that the reader can’t help but feel the same way. It’s what makes the book essential reading for every kid who has walked away from the protective embrace of his or her parents, which is to say every kid who has ever hit puberty. To be young is to feel alone, like an outcast, like a misfit. Adolescence is alienation.