Feminist Characters in YA novels

Photo credit:michal_hadassah

I read a really cool article in Ms. Magazine called “Kick Ass Girls and Feminist Boys” by Jessica Stites, which talked about the numerous heroes and heroines that eschew gender norms and stereotypes throughout the history of young adult literature.

From fantasy to realistic fiction to war stories, girls are appearing in unconventional roles saving the day, standing up for human rights and breaking taboos that we might think are totally normal.

Here are some of Ms. Magazine’s YA picks featuring kick-ass girls and feminist boys:

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • Dealing with Dragons by  Patricia C. Wrede
  • The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor

How many of these have you read and what other books do you find represent strong  female characters or awesome characters that just defy expectations?

Some of my picks would be Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew series, Sammy Keyes from Sammy Keyes Mysteries, Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games, Charlotte Doyle from The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Finnula Crais from Ransom My Heart and Gemma Doyle from A Great and Terrible Beauty.

You’d think it would be easy enough to make your female character smart and sassy, not weak and mousy, but sometimes you can go too far and make the characters unbelievable and too perfect. It’s all about balance and giving them flaws that humanize them but don’t belittle literary heroines just for being girls.

Here are two great posts that talk about the wrong way of writing a strong female characters by T.S. Bazelli and Overthinking It.

And here’s an awesome flowchart to compare your story’s rocking female character to other famous ones!


One thought on “Feminist Characters in YA novels

  1. Definitely Hunger Games! Katniss is a very strong female character, loved the entire series. Max form Maximum Ride is another strong heroine, if you’ve read that before. 😀

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