Monday, January 17, 2011

Strong Female Voices

Last week, I wrote about my favorite male characters from young adult books that were published in 2010. This week, I’m writing about their female counterparts. Generally speaking, the characters I liked best had powerful, intelligent voices and were a step removed from traditional female characters, either by the actions that they took or their thinking.

Dani from Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman.

Dani is a great combination of a classic young adult heroine and a more modern one. She is older and wiser than her years as a result of her family’s need to leave its home in Argentina as a result of the country’s economic crisis. She struggles with the emotional issues related to this and to her father’s depression but helps to keep her family together through strength and persistence. One of the hardest parts of this book was reading about Dani’s own struggle with depression. Her depression felt very real and heavy and, as it lifted, more of her true spirit came out.

Bianca from The DUFF by Kody Keplinger.

Bianca’s voice is her strength. It is sassy and true. Although Bianca spends much of the book hiding from the problems that are rooted in her distorted self-image, she makes a choice that is courageous when she decides to let herself fall in love again. One of the things I loved about Bianca is that she is a part of a new generation of YA heroines. More female characters have greater control and direction in their relationships and don’t wait around for the boy to call the shots. When Bianca starts to combine this power with a greater sense of happiness with herself, she develops a new level of dignity. This is a great story for young woman who feel like they're not entitled to be happy, for any reason.

Scarlett March from Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Scarlett March is the older of two sisters who fight an underground world of werewolves. She’s scarred from her battles, brutal, unapologetic and seems insane at times but when you see her in the context of her life, it all makes sense. Scarlett is tough, like Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy, but as fragile inside as any sixteen-year-old girl. It’s odd in some ways to have a female narrator who thinks like a seasoned warrior but, like Bianca in the DUFF, Scarlett is part of the new generation of YA heroines. I can’t wait until the sequel comes out.

Who is your favorite heroine of 2010?

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