Top Y.A. Feminist Reads You Need
By Caden Armstrong
When collecting novels that I wanted to talk about in this article, I found myself wanting to delve into Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction. Of course, there are always going to be the strongly feminist novels that we all know and love such as The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, but I wanted to talk about some lovely feminist reads that are popping up for teens, young adults, and middle grade readers. I find that these areas of literature are very important, and that it is incredible to me that feminism is being expressed in these subcategories. So down below, you will find three of my favorite feminist reads that I have picked up either recently or over the years of being an avid reader.
A book that caught me completely off guard this year is a new 2018 debut Frat Girl, written by Kiley Roache. I was drawn to this book not by its cute cover or title but by the tag line on the front cover that read: “There’s a feminist in the frat house.” I instantly wanted to read this story and see what they really meant by that tagline. From the second chapter, I was immediately drawn into Roache’s enigmatic story. This book does a great job of talking about feminism without excluding men. It stays true to one of the most basic definitions of feminism which is that feminism is the belief that there should be equality for both women and men. I thought that this novel did a fantastic job of expressing a character who was still learning about what feminism meant to her, and the different levels that feminism can have in society. I found myself learning along with the character and I found her failures and triumphs very realistic and relatable. Frat Girl not only does a fantastic job of talking about modern feminism, but also talks about some other just as important topics in our world today such as sexual assault, racial and LGBTQ+ representation on college campus’, and mental health such as anxiety. This is truly a book that changed me not only as a reader, but also as a person, and the novel holds a very special place in my heart. I truly recommend it to anyone of any age or gender, and can’t wait to see it in the hands of more readers.
Synopsis (From Goodreads):
For Cassandra Davis, the F-word is fraternity—specifically Delta Tau Chi, a house on probation and on the verge of being banned from campus. Accused of offensive, sexist behavior, they have one year to clean up their act. For the DTC brothers, the F-word is feminist—the type of person who writes articles in the school paper about why they should lose their home.
With one shot at a scholarship to attend the university of her dreams, Cassie pitches a research project: to pledge Delta Tau Chi and provide proof of their misogynistic behavior. They’re frat boys. She knows exactly what to expect once she gets there. Exposing them should be a piece of cake.
But the boys of Delta Tau Chi have their own agenda, and fellow pledge Jordan Louis is certainly more than the tank top wearing “bro” Cassie expected to find. With her heart and her future tangled in the web of her own making, Cassie is forced to realize that the F-word might not be as simple as she thought after all.
One of my all time favorite middle grade novels is Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi. This novel, which follows a young girl who gets caught up in a scheme to save the world, is based around Hindu mythology and is a strikingly feminist read. This was a novel that made me cry because of its beauty and meaning to young girls. It was a novel that made me say “Wow, I really wish I could have read this book when I was eleven or twelve years old and growing up as a young woman.” Chokshi’s writing is absolutely superb, funny, fast paced, and perfectly relatable. She has such a wide range of characters that instantly grab you as a reader. This was a book that I found myself not able to put down, a story that pulled me in and refused to let me go. Aru is a very strong young woman who is so inspiring, and I really encourage everyone, even if you don't usually read Middle Grade fiction, to pick up this truly wonderful novel.
Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
So when I was collecting the books I was going to talk about in this article I just knew that I had to include a book by Cassandra Clare. She is not only an amazing writer, but every single one of her books has extremely strong feminist themes and characters within them. That was the only issue, every single one of her books presents feminism in some way. So instead of choosing just one book to talk about, I am including a feminist author recommendation. If you don’t know what books Cassandra Clare has written, here is a short list:
The Mortal Instruments series which includes: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, and City of Heavenly Fire
The Infernal Devices series which includes: Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess
The Dark Artifices series which includes: Lady Midnight, Lord of Shadows, and Queen of Air and Darkness (to be released on Dec. 4th, 2018)
… did I say that this was going to be a short list? Well I was lying, because those are all of her main books, but there are even more. She primarily writes Young Adult Fantasy, but she did recently announce a new project where she is writing adult fantasy, so I am very excited to see how she develops as a writer in the years to come. She is a truly prolific writer, and a writer that I believe helped shape the Young Adult genre. Her books never disappoint, and always express important themes such as feminism and representation in underrepresented communities.
Want to check out more feminist reads? Here is a short list of more to check out!
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
And I Darken by Kiersten White
Women Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) by a collection of authors
Leigh Bardugo as a feminist author
Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen
MORE GREAT READS
About the Author
My name is Caden Armstrong. I am 18 years old, and the owner of the Instagram @athousandbookstoread and the YouTube Channel 'A Thousand Books To Read!' I am a new freshman, starting college in Paris! I love to write, read and connect with others about how amazing fandoms and books are.
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