5 Books with Powerful Female Roles
In recent years, critics have become increasingly vocal about the severe lack of roles of substance for women in film and literature. If girls are awarded a lead position, more often than not, their part revolves around a male love interest and little else.
However, a few femme classics have made their way into our homes and have shown that the ladies can be just as kick-ass and three-dimensional as their male counterparts. These five books are just a few examples of girl-power literature that packs a punch and is bound to inspire a new generation of strong, independent women.
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games series has become a worldwide phenomenon over the last few years, with both the film and the book finding global success. Its incredible popularity stands as a poignant example of the changing attitude toward women in the modern world. The lead character, Katniss, is one of the most strong-willed, independent and courageous protagonists to grace the page and screen.
The story is set in a dystopian future reality where a ruthless annual event pits members of the local districts against each other in a fight to the death. Told from the perspective of Katniss, who is chosen as a representative tribute for her area, it provides a wonderful perspective on female strength against all odds.
The book delivers an invaluable role model for young girls all around the world and is a vital voice for feminism in an age when being a female teenager is so heavily influenced by fashion, beauty and celebrity culture.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Receiving mixed reviews right from its release in 2006, “Eat, Pray, Love” is probably one of the most underrated chick-lit novels of all time, perhaps because it completely subverts the traditional format. Instead of the story focusing on the protagonist finding the man of her dreams, it tells the tale of the breakdown of a relationship and a woman who leaves everything behind to find her independence.
Liz Gilbert, played by Julia Roberts in the film adaption, embarks on a round-the-world adventure in the hope of finding the spark her life seems to have lost. Every step of the way she’s confronted with an idea, one present in each country she visits, that she needs to stop gallivanting around and find a good man. Unperturbed by the constant criticism, she eats, meditates and travels herself into a whole new person.
The most socially impacting moment in the book comes at the end when Liz does indeed find herself a good man. Instead of falling head over heels and living happily ever after, she rejects the idea for fear of losing her newfound independence. Overall, this book provides a crucial lesson in finding the balance between being a strong, independent woman and sharing your life with someone and, therefore, is definitely one for the feminists! The film version is available on American Netflix, so with the right tools, you can watch it for free, no matter where in the world you are! Check out this Netflix Guide by Secure Thoughts for more details.
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The best femme literature isn’t necessarily about hardcore women who give the male characters a run for their money. Sometimes it’s simply about exploring what it really means to be female and all the weird and wonderful shades of existence it can involve.
“Girl, Interrupted” follows the story of a young woman who may—or may not—be suffering from mental health problems. Her somewhat neurotic parents make the decision to commit her to an all-girls asylum, and the story follows the time she spends there and the people she meets.
From Lisa the sociopath to Daisy the agoraphobic and Janet the anorexic, the film shows what happens to women when society deems them “not normal.” Its power comes as the lead character, Susanna, begins to learn how much depth there is in the personalities of her new friends and how the line between sane and crazy is so thin that it’s possible it’s made up altogether. The book is a genuinely heartwarming story and empowering look at the feminine and what it means to be a woman. It found so much success that it was adapted into a smash-hit film, so if you’re more of a cinemaholic than a bibliophile, you can enjoy the story on screen instead! It’s also currently on Netflix for subscribers to enjoy.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
If you’re looking for literature about women standing up in the face of adversity, the civil rights era is definitely a period to investigate. This 2009 release is an inspiring and heartwarming testimony to the courage and strength of the women of Mississippi.
“The Help” looks at the inhumane treatment of black workers, specifically maids in the 1960s. While their employers were cruel, ruthless and often violent, if they quit their jobs or spoke out, their names would be slandered in the community. However, when an aspiring and rebellious writer arrives to tell their story, the protagonist, Aibeleen, and a few close friends put everything on the line to try to change the fortune of the women of her race and the community they have created.
Queen of Bedlam by Laura Purcell
Strong women have been present all throughout history, and it’s only recently that the label of “feminist” has given them the credit they deserve. This wonderfully enlightening story by Laura Purcell is an account of the wife of the mad English king George III and all she went through to ensure her family’s place on the thrown during the late 1700s.
“Queen of Bedlam” presents an iron lady who suffers unmatchable heartache and loss. However, always true to her duties and loyal to her loved ones, Queen Charlotte maintains miraculous composure, even after she’s forced to take on the rule of the country from behind closed doors when her husband can no longer make rational decisions. It’s a gripping, inspiring and heartwarming story about the silent strength of the feminine and one that is well worth a read even if you aren’t aware of the history behind it. BBC News provides a great insight into the facts if you want to brush up before you start reading.
Good female representation in the arts is hard to come by, but as more and more voices call for better women characters, the future will hopefully bring a plethora of books of this nature. Until then, these are the first port of call to show young girls what true female role models should look like! If you can think of anything else that needs to be on this list, be sure to leave a comment below and share your ideas!
About the Author: Cassie is an entertainment blogger whose love of books, films and technology means she can keep up with all her favorites from anywhere in the world. She loves stories with strong female roles and strongly believes that young girls today need to see more of this kind of stuff!