According to the Bechdel test, in any work of fiction, there has to be two female characters who talk to each other about something besides a man. The literature and film universe were once dominated by male protagonists while women characters are just used as plot devices but thankfully, we’re seeing changes over the past years. There are countless novels with lead female characters emerging now, but here are just a few (in different genres!) recommendations.
5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
After 16-year-old Starr Carter witnesses the unfortunate shooting of her childhood friend at the hands of a cop, her life changes forever when the nation’s attention shifts on her as she holds the power to clear her friend’s name and put the policeman in jail. Despite the hatred and backlash Starr faced in the aftermath, she had the resilience to continue to fight for justice. This fictional story touches on not-so-fictional issues that plague modern times–police brutality, racism, and corruption.
4. Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy) by Jeff Vandermeer
Genre: Sci-fi, Mystery
A secret agency investigates a mysterious “shimmer” that has enveloped a reservation in the U.S. A team led by women from different backgrounds ventures into the shimmer to find out why military teams who went in before them never came back. Surreal, gripping, and enchanting, Annihilation is a unique story worth reading – even if you’re not into sci-fi or mystery. It’s so good that it was made into a movie starring Natalie Portman!
3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Genre: Dystopian, Classics
Set in the future in a totalitarian society, the story follows the story of Offred who was forced to separate from her family to become a “handmaid” to a “master” for reproductive purposes. Though this heartbreaking tale of oppression and misogyny is every woman’s nightmare, it is a must-read for all women. This has been adapted into a movie as well as into an acclaimed series starring Elizabeth Moss.
2. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
This #1 New York Times Bestseller is a compilation of poetry based on Rupi Kaur’s personal experiences of love, loss, violence, abuse, and sexuality. Every young woman can relate to at least one of the poems even if some of them are just a sentence long. Every single one just hits us right in the feels.
1. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Genre: Biography, drama
This autobiographical memoir by Jeanette Walls details her childhood growing up in her dysfunctional but unique family. The tell-all follows her struggles to take care and fend for herself and her siblings amidst poverty despite having loving but inept parents. The book has been turned into a 2017 film starring critically-acclaimed actress Brie Larson.
Featured photo from @jenesaispointlire