Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Kick-ass Girls in Literature

Welcome to Women Who Rock Wednesday! As I'm still all absorbed in writing, I'm still doing this a little bit differently and just sharing some thoughts I've had lately about women who rock, but don't worry, the interviews will be back later this spring.

A couple weeks ago, I talked Riot Grrrl and got some great responses from all of you about the women who influenced you. The winner of my zine and a riot grrrl-themed mix CD is.... Josef M. of blogger! Josef I will try to find your email through blogger or you can email me at stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com.

Today I want to talk kick-ass girls in literature, the fictional characters who are inspiring girls and women. There are tons. I will always go back to Weetzie Bat of course who was a huge inspiration for me in high school. And I'm sure I could come up with quite a list of others as well (of the top of my head, Leslie from Ink Exchange, Katy from Beige, Ciara from Jeri Smith-Ready's WVMP series....), but the inspiration for this blog post today is Tally from Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.

People had been telling me to check out this series forever, but my TBR pile is big, so I only got around to it at the beginning of this year. I just had the first book. I started reading it on the plane home from my honeymoon and immediately became addicted and had to buy the rest of the books.

What I liked about Tally is she struck me as a very real girl. At the beginning of the first book, she's insecure, she just wants to fit in, I think a lot of people could identify with that. I certainly could've as a teen and wish this book had been around when I was 14. Throughout the series, Tally comes into her own. She stays real and makes mistakes and sometimes you just want to shake her, but at the same time, you're proud of her and the way she makes her own way and develops her own set of beliefs, particularly in a futuristic world where developing your own beliefs and carving your own path is next to impossible.

I can't say a ton because I will spoil it for those who haven't read it. But I did love Tally for her fighting spirit and all of her flaws. I also was so impressed with the world that Scott Westerfeld created in these books--a world so obsessed with image and later "face rank" or popularity. It did what good dystopia/sci-fi does and explored where our culture could really be headed. It just made me think and nod a lot and when I finished the series (and I even enjoyed the last book, Extras, even though it seems to have gotten mixed reviews), I was so bummed that I couldn't have new adventures in that world with Tally and the other characters. I seriously didn't know what to read after that! And ultimately I went to an old standby... my literary form of comfort food, and I started reading about another girl in literature who I've admired since I started reading, Laura Ingalls Wilder. From the future to the past. But it was an interesting experience to read the Little House books after reading the Uglies and think about how both Tally and Laura were forced into certain roles in their society, but grew to be women who made their own paths and lived how they wanted.

So, go read the Uglies series if you haven't already. And please tell me about some of your favorite trailblazing, rebellious, or just damn cool women and girls in literature!

Women Who Rock Wednesday will resume once more in mid-April (with interviews and giveaways), after I return from Seattle and get my writing in the place I want it to be. And speaking of Seattle, if you want to know more about my trip and how I could totally be a professional rock 'n' roll vacation planner, visit the Teen Fiction Cafe and read all about it here!


Jennzah said...

kick ass female characters? first of all, i love Ciara from the WVMP series by Jeri Smith Ready. :) she's awesome, she has a mouth, all around good fun.

other characters i love are Cat Crawford by Jeaniene Frost and Sabina Kane by Jaye Wells. so much fun, these characters :)

juicy couture cargo said...

"mouthy" characters always give spice to any's either they can be the really fun character or hilariously annoying

Pat said...

Kaye and Val from Holly Black's Tithe and Valiant and Ironside books are pretty great. Jen from Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday is also cool, as is Pearl from his The Last Days and Lace from Peeps. And Cherry from S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders is kind of classic.

little miss gnomide said...

Stargirl is one of my favorite female characters. I adore the narrators of Bastard Out of Carolina and Member of the Wedding. I really like Mrs. Madrigal from the Tales of the City series. I so identify with the non-fictional voice in The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston & the narrator in Oranges Aren't the Only Fruit by Jeannette Winterson.

Bee said...

Great post.
Katniss from The Hunger Games trilogy, Shelby from Never Cry Werewolf kinda stand out for me.

And Eustacia Vye from Hardy's The Return Of The Native has to be the most kick-ass character ever created in the history of literature!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Jennzah, totally with you on Ciara! I will have to check out those other authors, since we obvs have similar tastes!

Juicy, so true.

Pat, all those books are on my TBR pile, I must get to them soon! And yes, Cherry is so so classic!

Bee and Gwen, those are a mix of characters I love and some I need to read since obviously you guys have great taste!!!