Persistent Girls in YA

By Denise Hudec

Katniss might be the most famous strong female YA character but she has a lot of competition. The girls featured in this list may not be as skilled with a bow and arrow but I think you will find them to be her biggest rivals for the title.

  • Here We Are : feminism for the real world


    This diverse collection of YA authors and well-known figures come together to share stories of how feminism has been a part of their lives. Filled with lots of art and stories about defining feminism on your own terms, I now know where all the strong female characters in YA got their start.

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  • Rani Patel In Full Effect

    2016 by Sonia Patel

    Rani uses rap to express herself as she processes the impact of abuse on her life. This book is definitely not an easy read but I found myself rooting for Rani as she draws strength from the strong women in her family and lives by her own feminist ideals.

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  • Code Name Verity

    2012 by Elizabeth Wein

    Maddie and Verity are friends fighting together for the Allies during WWII. Maddie is a fighter pilot and when her friend Verity, a spy, is captured she will do everything she can to to save her. I've read many war stories about men so I was excited to read one where girls get a chance to show their valor on the front lines.

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  • I Am Malala : how one girl stood up for education and changed the world

    2014 by Malala Yousafzai

    If you ever need girl power inspiration Malala's story should be at the top of your list. Her fight for equality in education almost got her killed by the Taliban but it has not stopped her persistence.

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  • A Thousand Nights

    2015 by E. K. Johnston

    After finishing this book, I was surprised to realize I never even knew the name of the main character. She isn't given a name in this story and it doesn't matter. The ruler Lo-Melkhiin has already killed three hundred girls before arriving at her village, so when she takes her sister's place as his wife in order to spare her life, she is surprised to find she has the power to change everything. The sisters use their intelligence, strength, and their bond with each other to help save their village.

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  • Audacity

    2015 by Melanie Crowder

    I had never heard of Clara Lemlich before reading this powerful novelization of her life but it left me eager to learn more. Told in verse, it is impossible not to feel as though you are in Clara's head as she fights for women's labor rights in early 20th century New York.

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  • The Lie Tree

    2016 by Frances Hardinge

    Faith never received the respect from her father she had hoped for and after he is found dead of an apparent suicide she is determined to prove that he did not kill himself. Faith is an intelligent girl who is constantly underestimated and it was frustrating that she did not realize she was buying into the same societal view of women that she detests. This book helps show that all women are different and that's okay.

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  • Burn Baby Burn

    2016 by Meg Medina

    It's 1977 in Queens and the Son of Sam serial killer is on the loose. Nora, a senior in high school, must balance her family and friends with worries about her future and where she fits in as a woman. Nora begins to question why things are different for her as a girl and joins the Women's Movement as she tries to figure it all out.

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  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks :

    2008 by E Lockhart

    What's a girl to do when she finds out that the secret all-male society at her boarding school has all the power and privilege and underestimates her because she is a girl? In Frankie's case she infiltrates the group, shakes it up, and has lots of fun along the way. This book is all about girl power and challenging norms.

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  • Gabi, a Girl In Pieces

    2014 by Isabel Quintero

    Gabby's senior year diary might be typical of many girls her age. She is dealing with body issues, choosing a college, fighting with her friends, and has issues with her parents. Gabi's family has many preconceived notions about gender and cultural roles but she is a smart, strong girl who knows how to stand up for herself and what she knows is right.

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