Read MHK Young Adult Books by Female Authors
by Alissa Rehmert, Library Assistant
A wise woman once sang, “Who run the world? Girls! Who run the world? Girls! Who run the world? Girls!” Beyoncé’s words ring truer and truer as time goes on. Since the time Beyoncé released “Run the World (Girls),” the percentage of female authors went from 46% to 50% in a span of just eight years (Zippia “Author Statistics and Facts in the U.S.”). The more that women share their stories with the world, whether fiction or non-fiction, the more society benefits. Now more than ever before, women authors have the opportunity to give new and fresh perspectives, while also highlighting uniquely feminine struggles and urging readers to make changes.
The representation of women authors is particularly important when it comes to young adult literature. Being a teenage girl can be difficult, but having access to the stories of women who have endured similar hardships may help guide young adults through their own struggles. When I was a teen, I, like many young women, found sanctuary in the written word. Women authors like Suzanne Collins, J.K Rowling, and Stephanie Meyer greatly influenced my teen, and even young adult, life. Since I graduated high school, several more women authors have pushed out thousands of novels with just as much power!
One such author is Mindy McGinnis, an award-winning novelist who writes dark, gritty YA fiction perfect for teens eager for introspection and deep contemplation. Her 2016 novel, “The Female of the Species”, is, simply put, the story of Alex, a teenage girl who must find a way to survive high school after mourning the untimely death of her older sister. Of course, that’s how the story seems on the surface, but, like most things in life, there is more to the story than the veneer. Throughout the story, McGinnis highlights the struggles that come from simply being an adolescent girl facing the challenges that come with the modern world. Whether it be cheating boyfriends, mean girls, drug and alcohol use, or striving for vengeance against the man who murdered your sister: McGinnis addresses it all.
Through Alex’s story, McGinnis invites her audience to consider the bigger societal expectations placed upon adolescents, particularly women, as they make the inevitable move from childhood to adulthood. What does it mean to be a woman? How does the human woman fit within the animal kingdom as a whole? How far might a woman go to protect those she loves? These are just a few of the topics McGinnis ponders through her novel. There are many graphic scenes depicted throughout this fast-paced novel, but McGinnis doesn’t exploit these violent situations for mere shock value, rather utilizing them in an effort to highlight societal issues that often mirror real-life stories. Alex is the type of woman who isn’t afraid to stand up for the people she loves, even if it might entail social alienation. I personally wish I would have read a book like this when I was younger and naiver to the dangers of the world around me!
McGinnis’ genius didn’t stop there, though! Just last year, she released a new YA novel titled “The Initial Insult,” which acts as a sort of homage to Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story, “The Cask of Amontillado.” In it, Tress Montor loses her entire family under mysterious circumstances. Montor’s best friend, Felicity Turnado, holds the key to finding out where Montor’s family is, only she can’t remember anything from that night. This suspenseful mystery is sure to pull you in quickly and keep you guessing what might happen next. What’s even more exciting is that this novel has an upcoming sequel called “The Last Laugh” which releases this month, March 15, 2022.
Whether you kick back and listen to Beyoncé or crack open a new YA novel by an up-and-coming female author, make sure to find time this month to celebrate the hard-working, world-running women around you!