Friday, March 30, 2012

Top 5: 5 Strong Contemporary Girls for Women's History Month

In honor of March being Women's History month, we wanted to take a minute to celebrate the young women of contemporary YA. It's not always easy to be a teen and these girls are determined to make it on their own. Here's our top 5 Strong Girls in Contemporary YA- if you want a fuller list of strong girls from many different genres, check out our booklist here.

What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez
Marissa spends her afternoons shoving studying in between working at the grocery, babysitting her sister's daughter, Anita, (who she loves above everyone else) and cooking for her family. She's still making A's and catching the eye of her teacher who thinks that Marissa would be a perfect candidate for an engineering scholarship. Every day of Marissa's life is a culture clash between what the people at school think she should want out of her life and what her parents and family believe is important. It's like she's being pulled between two worlds and, if something doesn't change, she'll end up pulled completely apart. (see the rest of the review here).
Marissa's tenacity in finding what she needs out of life, even if it's not what everyone else wants for her, puts her on our strong girls list.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Hazel enjoys America's Next Top Model, has a good relationship with her parents and a crush on a boy. That should be the extent of what's important for you to know, but unfortunately, there's more. Hazel has cancer, the kind that you can hold off for a while, possibly a long while, but not cure (see the rest of this review here).
I was recently talking with one of the TAB teens about this book and he said that one of the moments that really stabbed him in the heart in TFIOS was one where Hazel is talking with a nurse about her level of pain and she chooses a 9 (on a scale of 1-10), even though it is probably the worst pain in her life. Her internal monologue in this scene is just one of about a bajillion (technical term) reasons that puts Hazel on our list. 

Tutored by Allison Whittenberg
"Wendy lives in an all-white suburb of Philadelphia, where she's always felt like the only chip in the cookie. Her dad, who fought his way out of the ghetto, doesn't want her mingling with "those people." He even objects to Wendy's plan to attend a historically black college. But Wendy feels that her race is more than just the color of her skin, and she takes a job tutoring at an inner-city community center to get a more diverse perspective on life. When she meets Hakiam, one of the teens she is set to work with, she can tell that now she'll be getting trouble at home from her dad for volunteering and just as much trouble from her new tutoring assignment. " (Annotation from the catalog).
Wendy is smart, sure of what she wants and not about to let anyone stand in her way. She's also thoughtful enough to look a little deeper at the people who might try. Those things together make her a must have on our list.

Derby Girl/Whip It by Shauna Cross
Bliss Cavendar is a part time employee of the Oink Joint in Bodeen, Texas. Her main hobby is avoiding her mother's misguided attempts to submit her for various local beauty contests. The last time she wore a pair of skates they had barbies on them.
Somehow she is soon to become Babe Ruthles, the rock-star rookie of the "Hurl Scout" derby girl team. Babe Ruthless can jump over the rail on her skates and keep on going. Babe Ruthless gets standing ovations every night from the meanest crowd in Texas, has blue hair and is dating the smoking hot bassist for the Stats. How she gets there puts her on our strong girl list, for sure. (read the rest of this review here)

Battle Dress by Amy Efaw
Andi is one of only two girls in her squadron at West Point, but what makes her story so inspiring is that she is determined to rise above everyone's expectations and not only make it through, but succeed. It's not easy, even her other squad mates think there are things she won't be able to do because she's a girl. Add this to the fact that every day of The Beast has about a thousand new challenges, with officers yelling at you every step of the way, and you have a seriously intense six weeks (read the rest of the review here).
The world thinks that Andi's choices are strange and even unfeminine, but she doesn't let that stop her from succeeding and even leading. Pretty list-worthy, we think.

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