I read an interesting article recently about the lack of strong female characters on television. The article mainly looked at Gossip Girl
as a show without any positive role models and then curses the networks that canceled Veronica Mars
and My So Called Life
. In some ways, I have to agree. I mean, Gossip Girl
is just crazy, who visits prison inmates in backless dresses?! And I’m also in the special group of people who still hope for a Veronica Mars
movie (time to let that one go I think). Luckily for teenage girls everywhere, YA novels are celebrating smart and savvy young women and they don’t have to kick butt like Katniss Everdeen
Carrie Pilby is a girl genius. She’s nineteen and just graduated from Harvard. She lives alone in an apartment that her father found for her before he left the country for work. She’s also completely alone. In some ways, she’s done this to herself. She can’t find anyone as smart as her to talk to and the people she meets, in her mind, are liars and hypocrites. People seem to only be concerned with satisfying their own needs and Carrie doesn’t want to tolerate this. Every week she goes to a therapist (mainly because she doesn’t want to waste her father’s money) and one afternoon he gives her a challenge:
- List 10 things you love (and DO THEM)
- Join a club (and TALK TO PEOPLE!)
- Go on a date (with someone you actually LIKE!)
- Tell someone you care (your therapist DOESN’T COUNT)
- Celebrate New Year’s (with OTHER PEOPLE)
No one is more surprised than Carrie when she starts to find her place as she works her way down the list.
Natalie Sterling, like Carrie, is all too aware of the hypocrisy of teenage life. During her freshman year she watched her best friend ruin her reputation after trusting the wrong kind of guy and vowed to never do the same. She is focused and disciplined with her eye on the student council presidency. The one thing that Natalie can’t stand is watching the girls at her school throw themselves at guys who really don’t deserve it. The girls who think you need to dress like a stripper to get noticed and want attention even if it is the bad kind. Natalie never wants to find herself in those kind of girls' shoes so she avoids the boys at her school all together. But during her senior year she finds herself in a relationship with someone she’s supposed to despise and at the same time, feels her best friend drifting away. Vivian’s novel brings up the question, what is the definition exactly of a "good girl"? Natalie thinks she is exactly that until she sees that the rules she made for herself are the ones that are hurting her.
Both of these books are really great, and I'll admit, it's nice to read about smart girls. Do you have any favorites?