Today I have the magnificent Ari from Reading in Color, here to talk about something she is passionate about...awesome female characters!
Top Ten Kick-Butt Protagonists
In 2010, I seemed to read a lot of books with strong female main characters. This is more than just a trend and it makes me happy. Some of them were strong in the obvious sense of the word, bold and ready to do and try anything, regardless of what anyone said.. Others possessed a quiet inner strength, and rose to the occasion. I thoroughly enjoyed (even loved) each and every one of these books. Some of the girls whine, some are frustratingly stubborn and some remain composed when all you want is for them to finally open up. I wish I had a little bit of each of these girls' personalities in me, how FIERCE would any girl then be? But the diversity of the strength of the main characters show that being strong doesn't just mean one thing and (as cliche as it sounds) we all have strength within us, it's just a matter of finding and harnessing that strength.
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Hanna is bipolar and her actions may seem crazy to us, but I envy her freedom and complete happiness with herself. She freely admits that she's beautiful and that she likes sex. She does not lack in any way for self confidence and while I couldn't relate to that, I could admire her for that self confidence. She also rolls with the punches and absolutely nothing seems to faze her.
2. Ruthie from 8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich
Ruthie is bossy and proud of her Jamaican heritage. she doesn't care if she sticks out, all she cares about is making the world a better difference, one person at a time. She's devoted to social justice and she's also committed to her faith. I don't read many books in which faith is mentioned so this was a nice change, especially because the book is never preachy. I got such a kick out of Ruthie, she describes herself as "a strong black woman." and it's so awesome to see such a compassionate 8th grader. I want to see more teens and kids doing good in literature. Most of us do want to make a difference in some way.
3. Mary Quinn from The Agency series by Y.S. Lee
The fact that Mary is able to be such a good spy while mostly being a "proper" Victorian lady is qutite admirable (as long as she avoids wardrobes and a certain young man's company ;) She's witty, smart and fearless. She can take care of herself and she does not appreciate people who get in her way and try to hold her back (or "protect" her). If I ever have a mystery that needs solving, I would call up Mary Quinn. I love how Mary is such a great actress, she can immerse herself fully in a role and do a great job in it, but she does have some fears and that makes her even more admirable.
Devil's Kiss series by Sarwat Chadda
As a Templar Knight, Bliquis SanGreal must kill demons. The first book, Devil's Kiss, starts off with her killing a child. Even though she knows the child is evil, she still struggles with her duty. This is a constant theme throughout the books, hurting someone for the greater good of all. Billi tries to be a detached killer, but she can't seem to keep herself from caring about the other Templars or wanting a more "normal" life. Billi is independent and she hates feeling like the fate of the world is on her shoulders and she shows it through a bit of whining. She's stubborn and can make (in retrospective) foolish mistakes. She's an everyday teenager who knows how to kill and has studied various religions. She is capable of every task assigned to her, but she struggles to complete them and following her journey is such a treat.
When the Stars Go Blue by Barbara Caridad Ferrer
If you look up Ambition in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Soledad and this book. Soledad knows EXACTLY what she wants (to dance professionally) and she's already figured out how she's going to achieve her goal. If there is a change in plans, Soledad does not roll with it. She makes the change completely her own and you wouldn't know at all that the change ruffled her in the slightest. She is remarkably self-assured in her dancing skills, but she has vulnerable moments about her body, her beauty.
6. Asha from Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins
Asha is yet another very determined main character. She is probably the character on this list I could absolutely never be like because of her decision at the end of the book. It was so....jaw dropping. I'm too selfish to do what she did. Asha is very impulsive. But once she comes up with her random idea, she sees it through. Honestly there's nothing else to say about her. If you read the book and experience the ending for yourself, you will totally understand why she is so fierce.
Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes
At one point in the book, Lanesha talks about how she doesn't mind sitting by herself at the lunch table because "I'm not ashamed of me." She's twelve years old. What twleve year old do you know would say such a thing? Sure she would like to have friends, but she's not going to settle for people who don't treat her right just so that she won't be alone at lunch. I totally teared up at that statement because I don't think to this day, I have that kind of confidence. Lanesha's story takes place during Hurricane Katrina and she is one of the pluckiest (always wanted to use that word!) characters out there.
8. Syrah from Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley
Syrah is stand-offish and she has such a dry sense of humor. If she would let me, I would be her friend in a heartbeat, and not because she's rich. This book does start off very slowly but it mirrors Syrah the wine and Syrah the person's growth. S-L-O-W-L-Y but surely, Syrah comes out of her shell and becomes a steadfast character. There is a great scene in which Syrah tells off her 'sort-of-ex-boyfriend.' It's pretty great. I also liked that Syrah is another teenager who is working to make a difference in the world. She certainly didn't start out that way, but that's how it is for most people. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to make a difference, all that matters it that you do it.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
At first, I thought Kambili and her mother were some of the meekest characters I've ever encountered. She is abused by her fanatically religious father but she still loves him and admires him. Gradually, I came to understand why it's so hard to leave someone who keeps hurting you, her father had moments in which he truly seemed to repent. Kambili never has a big "AHA!" moment, she never yells at her father and vents. There are a few key scenes in which she quietly but resolutely shows how formidable she has become. A beautiful change to witness.
10. Prunella from The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle by Deva Fagan
Prunella is a quirky character. She wants to be a witch, but she's not "evil" enough, so her family is disappointed, she needs to be meaner and uglier, instead of her cheerful, good, pretty (meaning wart-free) self. Pruenlla tries to always be tough which helps her out and severely backfires. She's also terrible at reading people, I couldn't believe how many misunderstandings she got her herself into! It's always nice to have a main character whose not perfect.
There are lots of other strong heroines that I've read about, but these ten are really stuck out to me. Tell me, whose missing from this list, who would be in your top ten?
Thanks so much for having me Steph! And everyone have a happy holidays!
Thank YOU, Ari! Don't forget to stop by and check out Ari's blog at Reading in Color.
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