Am I Normal Yet? is the first book in a trilogy about a group of girls who set up their own feminist campaign group called ‘The Spinster Club’. I think YA gets a bad rep when it comes to feminism. So many people keep bleating out the dreaded words ‘Bella’ and ‘Swan’ – like Twilight isn’t a) TEN years old, and b) Not the only YA book out there. In fact, YA have LOADS of incredibly feminist books, and here are my top 5.
1) The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Most people know E C Lockhart for her haunting We Were Liars, but I have to say I actually preferred this book. Frankie is very much in love with her new boyfriend, but she can’t understand why she isn’t allowed into his secret boys-only club at their top private school. So she infiltrates it…
Why it rocks:
Frankie is the very definition of ‘kick-ass’ – you spend the entire book wishing you could be her. This book has incredible insight into the thirst of power, the complexities and contradictions of being a teen feminist who also wants a boyfriend. A top-notch quirky teen feminism manifesto!
Favourite quote: “It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people.”
2) Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
This book deserves all the accolade it gets. It isn’t a *nice* book, but it’s a ruddy important book. In a dystopian world where women are bred only to be attractive to men, O’Neill follows two friends in their final year of school – building up to the moment where they’re chosen either to be a dutiful wife, a prostitute, or to have their womb ripped out and become bald spinsters
….I told you it wasn’t nice.
Why it rocks:
O’Neill expertly captures how girls turn on each other when they’re forced to compete. She’s been described as ‘writing with a scalpel’ and it’s true. Her satire is spot-on and her ending is unflinchingly true to the dark world she creates.
Favourite quote: “Chastity-ruth says thinking too much robs you of your beauty. No man will ever want a companion who thinks too much”
3) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Kick-ass female spies during World War Two? Check.
Kick-ass female pilots? Check.
A brutally brilliant heart-breaking tale of how two best friends are brought together and then ripped apart by the war? Check.
This book is simply incredible. And will make you cry so hard, you should wrap it in clingfilm.
Why it rocks: Code Name Verity has more layers than a genetically-modified onion. You are, quite simple, PLAYED the moment you pick it up. It shines a spotlight on the unimaginable bravery of women during the war, and will make you want to ring your bestie to tell them you love them.
“It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.”
4) All The Rage by Courtney Summers
Whenever anyone asks me to recommend them an author, Courtney Summers is my go-to. Her books grab your soul and scratch fingernail marks into it. Her latest book, All The Rage, is the darkest and scratchiest yet. It follows Romy in the aftermath of her date rape by the golden boy of the local town.
Why it rocks: It’s an utterly unflinchingly, uncompromising look at rape culture. The way the town turns on Romy is so real, it could fit on the non-fiction shelves of a bookstore quite happily…which is an unhappy thought.
Favourite quote: “I reach for the pettiest thing I can think of because no one has a hard time believing how petty a girl can be.”
5) Adorkable by Sara Manning
Jeane isn’t particularly pretty. Jeane isn’t particularly likeable… Usually you cannot exist as a female book character without these two things. But Jeane’s just shoved two fingers up at you and become an international internet sensation AND she’s just pulled the hottest boy at school…
Why it rocks: It’s fun, fierce, totally readable. And two young people have consensual sex and nothing bad happens! In fact, SHOCK HORROR they both have a nice time!
Favourite quote: “That was the deal with the really good-looking boys: they automatically assumed you were pining and panting for them and wouldn’t be satisfied until you’d had their babies, no matter how ugly their personalities might be.”