by Sophie Schmidt
Strong women used to be few and far between, but with people like Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai paving the way for others, things are looking up for females. Here are some literary heroines to fuel the feminist pride within you.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Reneé Ahdieh
There are a lot of retellings of A Thousand and One Nights, and of the ones that I’ve read this is definitely my favorite. Shahrzad’s story is one of loyalty—not only to her friend, but to herself, as well. As the plot thickens, Shazi’s verve and strength shine through her willingness to fight to do what’s right.
Mary Iris Malone (a.k.a. Mim)
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
When in doubt, go on a road trip. At least that’s Mim’s solution to her problem. When her father drags her to Mississippi with her new stepmother in tow, Mim feels herself wasting away. When she finds out her mother is sick, Mim sets out to reconnect with the woman who taught her to wear her warpaint proudly. Through her quest to find her mom, Mim encounters detours and people who show her what she is truly capable of.
Inej Ghafa & Nina Zenik
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
The Wraith and the Heartrender are two of the deadliest people in Ketterdam. These lovely ladies know how to wield knives, be enchantresses and hang with the best of the Barrel scum, all while eating waffles. Inej gathers the deepest secrets crawling all over the city and Nina can bring a man to his knees with a flick of the wrist—without a knife. While they’re only two of Kaz Brekker’s crew, these girls are essential to executing a dangerous heist that could cost them their lives.
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Charlotte may be a bit prickly when you first meet her, but it’s in her nature as a Holmes to be a bit off-putting. Despite many qualms students seem to have with her, Charlotte never wavers from doing her work and doing it excellently. She follows the trail and and her self confidence is steadfast.
Jasmine de los Santos
Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz
Jasmine is what seems to be the perfect girl; she’s cheer captain, valedictorian, the daughter of loving parents. All her life she’s worked hard to achieve the lofty goals she sets for herself. Jasmine is over the moon when she’s awarded a full-ride scholarship from the government to the college of her choice. Her excitement is short-lived, though, after she discovers she’s an undocumented citizen. Suddenly Jasmine must dig even deeper to find strength to fight for what she has rightfully earned. She must decide if she’s going to let someone else tell her who she is and who she isn’t.
Charlotte “Charlie” Davis
Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Charlie is not okay. She has lost herself and cutting is the only thing that makes her feel again. When Charlie wakes up in the psych ward of a hospital after cutting herself to the brink of death, her long journey back to wellness begins. Yet, this story isn’t a sad one. It’s complicated, and she experiences many setbacks, but Charlie’s strong will and hard work lead her to figuring out just who she may be after all.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Willowdean is in charge and she is fabulous. It doesn’t matter that she works in a grease pit of a restaurant—she can work that hair net like, well, it’s her job. She has always been proud of her voluptuous body, but when she engages in a flirtation whispers of self-doubt worm their way into her brain. To take her confidence back, Willowdean enters her town’s Miss Clover City beauty pageant. Her stunning performance will inspire you to find body love instead of body shame.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Jude may be a bit of an unlikeable character, yet that’s what makes her real. Throughout her life, Jude has felt like she has stood in the shadow of her brother Noah when it comes to art. While she loves him, Jude feels suffocated and rebels. Three years later she’s the one who’s been accepted to the elite art school that they both had applied to, not Noah. Jude doesn’t feel any less lost though, and she must find herself through the real art.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Lennie lost her sister, and she doesn’t know who she is without her. She feels like a hollow shell of herself, even reading and music don’t seem to bring her the same pleasure they did before. The only person who seems to understand her is her sister’s former boyfriend Toby. Yet, when she piques the interest of the new boy in town, Lennie feels grounded, for once. He reminds her of the harmony and beauty that were in her life before her sister’s passing. Lennie ultimately must pull herself up and out, and with help along the way she seizes her life back.
Laia & Helene Aquilla
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
In the Martial Empire, Laia is a Scholar girl who watched her grandparents’ murder, yet she somehow got away. Helene is one of the best fighters in her class at the military academy Blackcliff, and the only woman. The girls come together when Laia takes on a slave job to help the resistance and save her brother from prison. Soon they’re pitted against each other…Laia the lowly Scholar and Helene the Mask, the highest ranking soldier in the Empire. Despite this, they help each other in unexpected ways. While they certainly don’t part as friends, there is a hint of respect between the two where they find a common goal, emphasizing the strength of women supporting each other.