So, when it comes to female characters, I always take a while longer to connect to them than with male ones. I don’t know why and we could probably get ourselves in a lengthy debate about internalized misogyny and double-standard expectations that we don’t really have time for today, so let’s just say that:
These characters swept me off my feet. I didn’t expect to love them as much as I did, or to become as protective as I was of them while I read it. And now I am urging you to read them, so we can gush about their absolute *perfection*. Basically.
Trigger warnings: ICE raids, anti-immigration sentiments
We follow in Lobizona our protagonist Manu, an undocummented Argentinian immigrant who finds herself wrapped up in the world of the Septimus – a magical world of brujas and werewolves. However, Manu is a lobizona, aka a she-wolf, the only of her kind.
When we start out this book, is impossible not to immediately love and sympathize with Manu. She’s a very lonely character, as having unique eyes has essentially privated her from any sort of normal, so she doesn’t really have any friends her age. We also then get to see Manu trying to protect her family, as well as finding things about her past, and it’s clear her determination and bravery through it all.
I loved her inner monologue so much and found myself deeply connected with her from the first few pages. I also really appreciate how, throughout the course of the novel, we see how much Manu is not interested in settling in with a couple of people who love and accept her for who she is. She becomes determined in carving a place in this world where she can belong, and not only for her, but for all the people who dare to be different.
She’s simply so fucking great it made the entire reading experience worth it for me.
LET’S CALL IT A DOOMSDAY
Our protagonist Ellis is a questioning bisexual Mormon girl with anxiety, who experiences a lot of intrusive thoughts, mostly related to the apocalypse. Things change in her life once she meets this girl named Hannah, who believes she knows when the apocalypse will happen.
This book was a *delight*, as can be expected from Katie Henry. But what I adored so much about Ellis is how she’s a character who’s simply trying her best. Not only is she trying to decide what is the best way to deal with the fact she holds possible knowledge about the doomsday, but she’s also experiencing a lot of confusion in relation to her feelings to both a girl best friend at her church and this mysterious, intriguing boy in her new friend group.
She’s definitely not a perfect character, but her flaws made her relatable and even more likable in my opinion. I also appreciated a lot how this book centers in a female friendship and delivers *a lot* of emotions on that front, so really, you’re getting two amazing female characters here.
SAINTS AND MISFITS
Trigger warnings: attempted rape, sexual assault, sharing of photos without hijab (with no permission), islamophobia.
S.K. Ali’s most recent novel, Love From A to Z, is very popular, and I wish more people would pay attention to this one, which I believe is her debut. Saints and Misfits follows Janna, a fifteen year old Muslim girl who’s trying to decide how to come forward about a sexual assault where the assailant is someone very well known in her community.
This book was hard to read, mostly because I felt like Janna was being failed by pretty much everyone around her. I really disliked all our side characters, tbh. Her two best friends were very judgemental and not entirely supportive, her brother was annoying, her mom clearly favored him the entire time, and I just wanted to get inside the book, wrap Janna in a blanket and tell her everything was going to be fine – even if her support system kinda sucked.
It’s also incredibly important to see Janna’s growth as she tries to understand herself as well as everything that happened with her. I liked the fact this is a coming of age story, while also discussing sexual assault and how difficult and challenging it can be for a victim to come forward, especially in the situation our protagonist was.
Trigger warnings: domestic violence, depictions and discussions of violence against women, implications of predatory behavior
Ha. Me screaming about Furia. Again. Sorry, but what can I say? I will continue to scream until y’all start reading more Latinx/South American authors.
Furia is set entirely in the city of Rosario, Argentina, starring our main character Camila, who wants to be a professional football player. We follow her as she manages to take her team to the Sudamericano and is also grappling with sexism, misogyny, and a complicated relationship.
I love so many elements of this book, but I’ll focus on Camila for now. She’s incredibly determined, badass, and super strong. She knows what she wants and she wants to get there by herself, in her own merit. She can also find small ways to find sexism and injustice whenever she can, but is also aware enough of her surroundings to know when is not safe to stand up.
This book discusses feminism at lenght (if you’re familiar with the feminist movement in Argentina or the Ni Una Menos protests, this one will definitely hit home) and has amazing and powerful female relationships and overall really great discussions.
Oh yes, and a lot of football too, which is just, you know, ~a given~.
KINGS, QUEENS AND IN-BETWEENS
Y’all have been sleeeeeepping on this one, ok. Go read it!
Kings, Queens and In-Betweens centers around Nima, who gets wrapped up in the world of drag queens and drag kings. She learns a lot of powerful lessons – the ones I yeeted the most about were surrounding identity and found families – and also makes a bunch of mistakes, which was honestly delightful nonetheless.
- Nima is 100% chaotic lesbian. She falls in love with every pretty girl that steps in front of her, which you know, who can blame her?
- We also have a questioning jock as a sidekick that surprisingly grows on you after a while.
- The aspect of found families, like I mentioned, is so pure!!!!!
- Also complicated family dynamics, as Nima doesn’t have a relationship with her mom.
- Oh yes, and DRAG QUEENS AND KINGS and a lot of sparkle.
This book’s writing wasn’t necessarily my favorite, but I still would recommend it for a female protagonist that you can’t help but adore.
Alright, friends! If you have any other books to recommend with great female protagonists, please, let me know in the comments!