I love good quality, young adult fiction. I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but this genre speaks to me for several reasons:
- I think that well written YA covers important themes, be they society based, emotional or political, in a very accessible way.
- Often, YA books are written with a lot more honesty and less pretentiousness than adult fiction.
- I love the trend of strong female leads, prevalent in contemporary YA.
- Last of all, I do like that reminder of what feels to be young.
I’ve recently read two books, which encompass all of the above and I must add that even readers not too fond of YA should definitely give these a go, as they are so strong in content and language. They also have two awesome female lead characters and I want to share my thoughts about them with you today.
This is one of the rare occasions where I had actually seen the film adaptation long before reading the book and the even more rare occasion of loving both versions equally!
The story is of fifteen-year-old Daisy, who is sent to spend the summer with her aunt and cousins in present day, rural England (She lives in America). She spends a glorious summer with them, forming intense, loving bonds with her cousins and being free of all adult rules as her aunt is called away for work, where she is part of a political team working to prevent an impending war between the UK and an unnamed country. Life dramatically changes for the cousins when the unnamed enemy country bombs London and takes over the UK. The cousins are separated and must find a way to be together again in this strange, dangerous new world they find themselves in.
What I love about Daisy:
Her search to really belong somewhere with someone: The relationships she forms with each of her cousins (and I won’t go into detail for fear of spoiling the plot) are honest, deep and rather special. Each connection is heartfelt and intensely personal but without any sugar coating or over the top sentimentality.
Her unconditional love and loyalty for her cousins: Daisy discovers an incredible inner strength and capacity to protect. She knows what matters and is willing to fight for it with all that she has.
Her political awareness: Daisy is intelligent and alert. She questions and sees through pretences. Her analysis of situations, together with her ability to think and act quickly, drives the hope in this story.
She tells it as it is: The book is written from her perspective and Daisy has a very straight forward, truthful narrative style. She shares her faults, she is aware of herself and she doesn’t hide from the truth. She notices and observes with incredible intensity. It feels like she is in direct conversation with the reader and you know you can trust what she has to say.
Her vulnerability: Daisy is not perfect. She struggles with her anger, especially towards her father. She has a very difficult relationship with food. The love she finds is complicated. She is a character to relate to, because of her strengths and also because of her flaws.
Like How I Live Now, Hollow Pike has a really strong plot, is well written and has some great characters to identify with.
Lis, moves to rural Yorkshire, to Hollow Pike, to live with her older sister and her young family. It is a chance to make a fresh start after having been intensely bullied at school.But then the strange dreams begin, where it appears someone is trying to kill her and Lis doesn’t know whether she is being paranoid or whether the local legends of witchcraft may have truth to them. The story follows Lis’ experiences at school and her search to find the meaning behind her dreams.
Reasons why I love Lis:
She takes control of her life: Lis doesn’t want to be the victim anymore and is proactive in creating a better life for herself.
She is open to magical possibilities: Lis is able to question events and behaviours; she doesn’t just accept what is happening on the surface.
She finds some fab, very quirky, very alternative friends: In doing so Lis realises that there is more to life – and more to her – than fitting in with the popular mainstream (who are often not all they present themselves to be).
Like Daisy, love and belonging are very important to her: her heart is wide open.
Like Daisy, she isn’t perfect and her flaws make her easy to identify with: At first, she will do anything to fit in and brushes off any moral implication of this; she doubts her new friends at several points instead of showing the trust they deserve; when the stakes are high she considers running away and abandoning those who love her. I love heroines with flaws.
So, who are your favourite female YA heroines/anti-heroines? What should I read next? Do you have any YA authors, who you would recommend to me?