Women s History Month Books with about strong female
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Women’s History Month Books with/about strong female characters List Prepared by Penni Cyr, Librarian Moscow High School Updated March 2004 Check OPAC for availability—not all books are in the MHS collection. *=available in the MHS Library 33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women’s History - ed. Tonya Bolden The pieces collected have the spicy flavor of rabble-rousing. But instead of a radical call to arms, readers will find more of a call to self-esteem, self-respect, and a summons to keep their eyes on a bright future. *The Awakening – Kate Chopin Twenty-eight year-old Edna Pontellier's is a passionate and artistic woman who finds few acceptable outlets for her desires in her role as wife and mother of two sons living in conventional Creole socie ty. *Autobiography of a face – Lucy Grealy In this strikingly candid memoir, Grealy tells her story of great suffering and remarkable strength without sentimentality and with considerable wit. Grealy captures what it is like as a child and young adult to be torn between two warring impulses: to feel that more than anything else we want to be loved for who we are, while wishing desperately and secretly to be perfect. *The Bean Trees (and others) – Barbara Kingsolver Turtle leaves Kentucky to make a home for herself in Arizona and unexpectedly becomes the mother of a 3- year old American Indian girl. *Beloved – Toni Morrison In the troubled years following the Civil War, the spirit of a murdered child haunts the Ohio home of a former slave. This angry, destructive ghost breaks mirrors, leaves its fingerprints in cake icing, and generally makes life difficult for Sethe and her family; nevertheless, the woman finds the haunting oddly comforting for the spirit is that of her own dead baby, never named, thought of only as Beloved. *Beauty – Robin McKinle y A retelling of Beauty and the Beast. *The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (and others) – Laurie King Sherlock Holmes takes on a young, female apprentice. In the early years of WW I, 15- year-old American Mary Russell encounters Holmes, retired in Sussex Downs where Conan Doyle left him raising bees. Mary, an orphan rebelling against her guardian aunt's strictures, impresses the sleuth with her intelligence and acumen. *The Bluest eye – Tony Morrison Poor, black, and ugly, she lives in a store front and shares a bedroom with her brother, her crippled mother, and drunken father. *Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood When Elaine Risley returns to her hometown, Toronto, for a retrospective show of her paintings, she finds more than critical acclaim. Local streets, long-gone landmarks, and elements in the paintings themselves trigger memories of her transient childhood traveling across Canada with her father; of adolescence marred by the cruel teasing of three friends; and of love affairs with her first art teacher and mentor. *Clan of the Cave Bear – Jean Auel Young Cro-Magnon orphan Ayla is adopted into the Neanderthal Clan of the Cave Bear and grows up mothered by medicine woman Iza and protected by magician Creb. Color Purple – Alice Walker This is a novel about two black Southern women, sisters who are separated at adolescence and for the next 30 years never forsake their devotion to each other. Cool Women - ed. Pam Nelson The roster of female role models in Cool Women is extremely eclectic, spanning history and national boundaries to include Cleopatra and Amelia Earhart. Mexican freedom fighters stand side by side with Soviet WWII fighter pilots, Mother Jones, and Rosie the Riveter. Editor Pam Nelson places emphasis on women who overcame their own fears to go beyond society's expectations and succeed on their own terms. 0965975401 *Ellen Foster – Kaye Gibbons In Ellen Foster, the title character is an 11-year-old orphan who refers to herself as "old Ellen.” Ellen is an old woman in a child's body; her frail, unhappy mother dies, her abusive father alternately neglects her and makes advances on her, and she is shuttled from one uncaring relative's home to another before she finally takes matters into her own hands and finds herself a place to belong. *Eva – Peter Dickinson After a terrible accident, a young girl wakes up to discover that she has been given the body of a chimpanzee. *Five finger discount – Helen Stapinski Helene Staphinski tells about growing up in a family of swindlers, bookies, crooks, and murderers. Fried green tomatoes – Fannie Flagg Set in a small Alabama train stop town (Whistle Stop) in the 1930s, where the social scene centers on its one café with Evelyn Couch, a younger woman who is looking for meaning in her life. Various women's voices tell anecdotes of Whistle Stop, as the chapters jump back and forth through time. *Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry Lame and suddenly orphaned, Kira is mysteriously removed from her squalid village to live in the palatial Council Edifice, where she is expected to use her gifts as a weaver to do the bidding of the all-powerful Guardians. *Girls of summer: the real story of the All-American Girls professional baseball – Lois Browne This is the true-life story of the All- American Gir ls Professional Baseball League which was the basis for the hit movie, A League of Their Own. Browne's colorful true story ensures a unique place in history for the women who played their hearts out on fields across America. *Girls of summer: the US women’s soccer team and how it changed the world – Jere Longman This is the story of the United State women's soccer team's defeat of China in the 1999 Women's World Cup, with a penalty-kick shoot out. Girls think of everything: Stories of ingenious inventions by women – Thimmesh, Catherine An outstanding collective biography of women and girls who changed the world with their inventions. Thimmesh surveys unique and creative ideas that were both born of necessity or were simply a product of ingenuity and hard work. *Gutsy Girls: Young Women Who Dare - Tina Schwager & Michele Schuerger Twenty- five young women share their adventures in such activities as skydiving, building homes, and mountain climbing, demonstrating the value of courage, commitment, and a positive attitude. *Hannah’s daughters – Marianne Frediksson This story sweeps through 100 years of Scandinavian history, and follows three generations of Swedish women - a grandmother, a mother and a daughter - whose lives are linked through a century of great love and great loss. *Home before dark – Sue Ellen Bridgers Returning with her migrant family to her father's childhood home, a fourteen-year-old struggles with her new stationary life. *The house on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros Esperanza Cordero, a girl coming of age in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago, uses poems and stories to express thoughts and emotions about her oppressive environment. *In the time of the butterflies – Julia Alvarez The four Mirabal sisters sacrificed their safe and comfortable lives in the name of freedom. They were Las Mariposas, “The Butterflies,” and they tell their stories of hair ribbons, secret crushes, gunrunning and prison torture as they describe the everyday horrors of life under the Dominican dictator Trujullo. *Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte In early nineteenth-century England, an orphaned young woman accepts employment as a governess and soon finds herself in love with her employer who has a terrible secret. Kay Scarpetta series – Patricia Cornwell Thriller novels about a female forensic pathologists. Kindred – Octavia Butler Kindred utilizes the devices of science fiction in order to answer the question "how could anybody be a slave?" As a twentieth-century African-American woman trying to endure the brutalities of nineteenth-century slavery, Dana answers the question, "See how easily slaves are made?" For Dana, to choose to preserve an institution, to save a life and nurture victimization is to choose to survive. *The lovely bones – Alice Sebold A fantasy-fable; told by Susie who is in heaven. As Susie looks down from heaven, she tells a tale that is both haunting and full of hope - the story of her murder and her family's struggles accepting her loss. *Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert The slow but inevitable moral degeneration of a weak woman. Describes the patient rendering of the squalor and narrowness of provincial life and of its effects on the woman's mind. *Map of the world – Jane Hamilton A piercing picture of domestic relationships under the pressure of calamitous circumstances, the book poignantly addresses the capricious turns of fate and the unyielding grip of regret. Alice and Howard Goodwin and their two young daughters live on the last remaining dairy farm on the outskirts of Racine, Wisconsin. *Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden This book presents the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geishas. It is romantic, erotic, and suspenseful and completely unforgettable. *Midnight Hour Encores – Bruce Brooks A sixteen-year-old cellist and musical prodigy travels cross-country with her father, a product of the 1960s, to meet her mother, who abandoned her as a baby. *One child – Torey Hayden Hayden recounts her battle to uncover the keen intelligence and touch the emotions of a troubled, sexually molested six- year-old girl who abused a younger child and was placed in her class for retarded preadolescents while awaiting space in a state institution. Out of control – Norma Fox Mazer Perhaps it wasn't exactly a rape, but Valerie knows that those few moments when she was cornered in the school corridor have changed her forever. The nightmares may fade, but she'll never regain her trust in a safe world. The night the white dear died – Gary Paulsen An Indian brave stands poised to shoot a white deer drinking from a pool of water in the moonlight. It is only a dream -- a recurring nightmare that haunts fifteen-year-old Janet Carson -- but it is a dream that will change her forever. *Plainsong – Ken Haruf Victoria Roubideaux is a pregnant 17-year-old with no place to turn. Her life parallels 2 others in much the same way any small- town lives would—until teacher, makes them intersect. *Rapture of Caanan – Sheri Reynolds Although the church's beliefs and practices may seem extreme (sleeping in an open grave, mortifying the flesh with barbed wire), its members are complex and profoundly sympathetic as they wrestle with the contradictions of Fire and Brimstone's theology, the temptations of the outside world, and the frailties of the human heart. Talk of damnation weighs heavy on the mind of 15- year old Ninah Huff. To distract her from sinful thoughts about her prayer partner James, Ninah puts pecan shells in her shoes and nettles in her bed, but concentrating on the Passion of Jesus cannot, in the end, deter Ninah and James from their passion for each other. What girls learn – Karin Cook Karin Cook depicts the inner lives of girls on the verge of adolescence with tremendous insight, and in Tilden, she has found a narrator both eloquent and observant. What Girls Learn explores notions of family and femininity and the transcendence of love, even in the face of loss. *Where are the children – Mary Higgins Clark Nancy Harmon had fled first marriage and the deaths of her two children. She changed her looks and left California for the wind-swept peace of Cape Cod. Now she was married again with two more beautiful children, and the terrible pain had begun to heal...until the morning when she looked in the back yard for her little boy and girl, found only one red mitten, and knew that the nightmare was beginning again... Persian Pickle Club – Sandra Dallas Set in Depression-era Kansas and made vivid with the narrator's humorous down-home voice, it's a story of loyalty and friendship in a women’s quilting circle. *Pope Joan – Donna Woolfolk Cross This is a work of historical fiction where, in the Dark Ages, a woman sat on the papal throne for two years. She was born in Ingelheim in A.D. 814 to a tyrannical English canon and the once-heathen Saxon woman. Women are not educated, but Joan’s brother teaches her to read and write and her intelligence and persistence carry her far. *The red tent – Anita Diamant The story of Dinah, a tragic character from the Bible whose great love, a prince, is killed by her brother, leaving her alone and pregnant. The novel traces her life from childhood to death, in the process examining sexual and religious practices of the day, and what it meant to be a woman. Silence of the Lamb – Thomas Harris This book takes us inside the world of professional criminal investigation. This book gives us the opportunity to live inside the minds of both the crime fighters and the criminals as each struggles in a prison of pain and seeks, sometimes violently, relief. *The silver kiss – Annette Curtis Klause A mysterious teenage boy harboring a dark secret helps Zoe come to terms with her mother's terminal illness. *Sisterhood of the traveling pants – Ann Brashares Four best girlfriends spend the biggest summer of their lives learning about themselves enchanted by a magical pair of pants. *Speak – Laurie Anderson A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda's freshman year in high school. Someone like you – Sarah Dessen Quiet Halley and popular Scarlett have been friends for years. They balance each other perfectly-- until the beginning of their junior year. Then, Scarlett's boyfriend is killed in a motorcycle accident; soon after, she learns that she is carrying his baby. *Staying fat for Sarah Byrnes – Chris Crutcher The daily class discussions about the nature of man, the existence of God, abortion, organized religion, suicide and other contemporary issues serve as a backdrop for a high- school senior's attempt to answer a friend's dramatic cry for help. *Their eyes were watching God – Zora Neale Hurston A novel of high poetry and its female hero which invests in black folk tradition. A woman is on a quest for her own identity and her journey immerses her into black traditions. Things I Have to Tell You - ed. Betsy Franco Poems and Writing by Teenage Girls that includes more than 30 poems by adolescents into a poignant collection of prose and poetry. *To kill a mockingbird – Harper Lee Jean Louise relates her impression of the time when her lawyer-father, Atticus Finch, is defending a black man accused of raping a white woman in a small Alabama town during the 1930's. Turtle moon – Alice Hoffman This story combins aspects of a suspense thriller and a romance, and includ s such surefire elements as an abandoned baby, a youngster on the verge of juvenile delinquency who is reformed, two dogs and a supernatural character who provides the requisite touch of fantasy. Waltzing the cat – Pam Houston Relationships and extreme adventures collide with deadpan humor and female wisdom in Pam Houston's story of eleven interlinked stories. We follow roving photographer Lucy O'Rourke as she survives a home life where her parents engage in rather peculiar feeding rites for the family cat in the title story. *Where the heart is – Billie Letts Seventeen year old Novalee Nation, who is 7 months pregnant is heading to California with her boyfriend, but ends up getting stranded at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma, with just $7.77 in change. Women of the American Revolution - Mary R. Furbee This collective biography captures highlights from the lives of six women who played vastly different roles in the American Revolution: Abigail Smith Adams, Peggy Shippen Arnold, Esther DeBerdt Reed, Deborah Sampson, Mercy Otis Warren, and Phillis Wheatley.