Women’s History Month

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Read MHK Young Adult Books by Female Authors

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!

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

Women Authors for Women’s History Month

Women Authors for Women’s History Month

by Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director of Learning and Information Services

Women have been sharing their stories for centuries. They have often been disrespected or pushed into the background, but from Sappho to Phyllis Wheatley, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Zora Neale Hurston, Sandra Cisneros, and Amy Tan, women have written down their perspectives of the world. Manhattan Public Library is celebrating women authors for Women’s History Month in March. The female authors of the past have paved the way for the current rich selection of fantastic books by women.

Sleeping Beauty is one of the more troubling of the classic fairy tales when viewed through the lens of modern values, but in “A Spindle Splintered,” author Alix E. Harrow manages to reform it into a story of women’s strength. Due to a rare illness, Zinnia Gray has known her entire life that it is unlikely she will reach the age of 22. Her illness drew her to the story of Sleeping Beauty from a young age, so her best friend Charm creates a themed party based on the tale for Zinnia’s 21st (and likely last) birthday, even set in a tower, with a spindle at the ready. But the magic of the party becomes all too real when Zinnia pricks her finger on the spindle, finds herself spinning through time and space, and encounters other “Sleeping Beauties” living their own stories. “A Spindle Splintered” is an engaging tale full of adventure, reflection, renewed hope, and strong women.

Some women’s stories have been written in thread. In the nonfiction narrative “All That She Carried,” author Tiya Miles shares the story of a sack that was found at a flea market. It was embroidered with the story of an enslaved mother named Rose, packing up this sack with a few necessities for her beloved daughter Ashley, who was soon to be sold to another household. In 1921, it was embroidered by Ashley’s granddaughter Ruth, “It held a tattered dress 3 handfulls of pecans a braid of Roses hair. Told her ‘It be filled with my Love always.’” Miles, a Harvard history professor, carefully weaves together the researched history of the item with the representational power that it carries. She tells how strongly the sack affects visitors in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where it now resides. People have been brought to tears by this evidence of the cruelty of American slavery that also clearly demonstrates a mother’s hope for her daughter. Although the book is full of researched details, Miles’ engaging writing style draws one in and brings life to two women who lived over a century ago. “All That She Carried,” like Ashley’s sack, tells a brutal story combined with hope for a better future.

Isabel Allende captured the attention of readers throughout the world in 1982 with her book of magical realism, “The House of the Spirits.” She has since published 26 books, a mix of fiction and nonfiction, making her one of the most read Spanish-language authors in the world. Her books cover many different subjects, but her stories often give us a view of the lives of women and how they affect and are affected by the world around them.  Her book “A Long Petal of the Sea” is about the Dalmaus, a Spanish family living in the midst of civil war. We follow Victor, an Army doctor, and Roser, his brother’s pregnant young widow as they flee over the mountainous French border and finally to Chile. They arrive to a country and a family that neither one of them wanted, but they are survivors and eventually find a new version of home. In “A Long Petal of the Sea,” Allende once again demonstrates her trademark ability to show the small moments of beauty that exist in even the most difficult of circumstances.

Manhattan Public Library’s celebration of female authors is part of our ReadMHK program. Go to www.mhklibrary.org to find lists of recommended books and our podcast, and join us for a book discussion focused on women authors on the evening of Thursday, March 17th.