Smart, strong women of all ages deserve books filled with smart, strong female characters. Luckily, there are many young adult books with protagonists who speak out for justice, make courageous choices, and know that womanhood is beautiful. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of recommendations for the woman who expects her fiction to be as bold as she is. From Haitian short fiction to literature of the southern immigrant experience, these books will make you believe in girl power
The problem that needs to be fixed is not kick all the girls out of YA, it’s teach boys that stories featuring female protagonists or written by female authors also apply to them. Boys fall in love. Boys want to be important. Boys have hopes and fears and dreams and ambitions. What boys also have is a sexist society in which they are belittled for “liking girl stuff.” Male is neutral, female is specific.
I heard someone mention that Sarah Rees Brennan’s THE DEMON’S LEXICON would be great for boys, but they’d never read it with that cover. Friends, then the problem is NOT with the book. It’s with the society that’s raising that boy. It’s with the community who inculcated that boy with the idea that he can’t read a book with an attractive guy on the cover.
Here’s how we solve the OMG SO MANY GIRLS IN YA problem: quit treating women like secondary appendages. Quit treating women’s art like it’s a niche, novelty creation only for girls. Quit teaching boys to fear the feminine, quit insisting that it’s a hardship for men to have to relate to anything that doesn’t specifically cater to them.
Because if I can watch Raiders of the Lost Ark and want to grow up to be an archaeologist, there’s no reason at all that a boy shouldn’t be able to read THE DEMON’S LEXICON with its cover on. My friends, sexism doesn’t just hurt women, and our young men’s abysmal rate of attraction to literacy is the proof of it.
If you want to fix the male literary crisis, here’s your solution:
Writing this was hard. I was very lucky to be edited by Chad Harbach, who spent many months (6? I forget. Possibly more) working on it with me. My writing group — Bennett, Anya and Lukas — also read several drafts and helped a lot. I would like to dedicate its appearance on the internet to the memory of Raffles, who cost me a lot of money but was worth every penny. I still miss you, buddy.
There was a time in my life when I really, more or less, wanted to be Emily Gould; I was still unsure of what I wanted to do, but I was starting to suspect that writing was going to figure into it, and I would read her work and feel this absolutely seething mix of awe and envy. The seething part has passed, fortunately, but man, this is good.
Me too. What an essay. Can’t wait for Emily’s novel.
There is a post going around tumblr with tens of thousands of notes saying that I “announced” that a certain character in my book The Fault in Our Stars dies one year after the end of the book.
1. I have never said, written, or thought any such thing. (Photoshop is magic!)
2. If I had said, written, or thought any such thing (which, again, I did not), it would not become true. As you’ve probably heard me say a gajillion times, I don’t think the voice of the author should be privileged when it comes to matters outside a book’s text. So if I ever make such an “announcement,” I don’t think it should carry more weight than any other reader’s speculation.
I ended The Fault in Our Stars where I wanted to end it. I have never said anything about what might happen before or after what’s depicted in the book. I finished writing it, for better or for worse, and it now belongs to you.
I've seen your comments on twitter and Facebook and feel like I am more anonymous on those sites than here. Sir, Twilight is made fun of because it glorifies very bad things. It takes horrible things like stalking, self harm and suicide, abusive tendencies, wanting to murder someone, and a loss of self identity in place of your significant other's identity and makes them seem beautiful and romantic. I beg you to read the books, because there is a lot of very bad stuff in them.
I hope I can be clear about this, but my thoughts all day have been a bit muddled, so I apologize if I express myself poorly or come off as defensive or anything.
1. There are deeply problematic relationship dynamics glorified in Twilight.
2. Criticizing misogyny in art is good and important.
3. My concern is that popular work by women receives far more vitriolic criticism from the public (like, in terms of number of demeaning jokes made by Jay Leno*) than popular work created by men.
4. So I think we’re talking about two different kinds of criticism: The totally legitimate criticism we see in literary journals and feminist web sites about misogyny, and the demeaning and dismissive this-sucks-because-teen-girls-like-it-and-everyone-knows-that-teen-girls-are-not-fully-human criticism we see in popular culture.
5. Also, I would like to see equal attention given to the sexism in popular work by men, from Nicholas Sparks to for instance J. D. Salinger. Catcher in the Rye—although I like it very much—is profoundly and disturbingly misogynistic and yet seems to get a critical pass both online and off. This happens a lot, I think, with books by men, and I don’t want male writers (including me!) to get that pass.
6. I might be wrong about any/all of this. I’m wrong a lot, and always trying to learn.
*EDIT: Apparently Jay Leno has retired. You learn something new every day.