Wild, wild women
When I saw the new Young Adult series Roller Girls, I had to pick up Falling Hard by Megan Sparks. When Annie starts the school year in a new town, her dad encourages her to try out for cheerleader in order to use her gymnastics skills. Unfortunately, the head cheerleader and school queen bee has taken an instant dislike to Annie and makes no bones about it. Annie’s skating ability gains the notice of the local roller derby team, and she is invited to try out. What’s a girl to do when she is picked as a cheerleader but practice conflicts with roller derby? If she’s a girl after my heart she will choose to skate. The author is clearly familiar with the sport of roller derby; training drills and track action are realistically portrayed. Annie’s dilemma, to follow her heart and her interests, or to choose to do what is cool and popular will resonate with readers who aren’t derby fans as well.
In general, I prefer books like Falling Hard with active and interesting girls. They give me the opportunity to experience life as a brave and strong woman, rather than as the wimpy kid that I more closely resemble. Another YA series that I thoroughly enjoy is Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer. Adopted by a group of local urchins after an illness took the lives of her parents and sister, Mary Faber lives on the mean streets of London. When an opportunity arises to join the Royal Navy as a ship’s boy with the promise of three square meals daily and a dry bed, Jackie disguises herself as “Jack” and signs up. The work isn’t easy, and then there is the challenge of maintaining her disguise. Her curiosity and bravado get her into more scrapes than Indiana Jones, but luckily her pluck and good nature generally help her land on her feet. I was fortunate enough to read the first book well into the author’s run; now I have caught up and must wait for the next installment.
Meg Cabot consistently turns out Young Adult novels with strong female protagonists. One of my favorites is her trilogy that begins with Airhead. Emerson is more interested in video games and academics than in who is trending today. Her younger sister thrives on popular culture and begs to go to the opening of the new Stark megastore which will feature the hottest pop singer of the time. Their parents say she can go if Emerson will go with her. Reluctantly Emerson goes to the opening for her sister’s sake and without hesitation shoves her aside when a big screen television breaks loose and comes crashing down from the ceiling. The TV lands on Emerson and lands her in the hospital. When she wakes up, she doesn’t see herself in the mirror; instead, the face of supermodel, Nikki Howard, stares back at her. As Emerson tries to come to grips with her new reality, she discovers that there may be something very sinister at the root of the “experimental” brain transplant that saved her life.
So there you have a sampling of the brave young women you could meet in the Young Adult section of the library. The credo of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association is “Real Strong Athletic Revolutionary” and while we can’t all be mixing it up on the track, we can at least be derby girls at heart or in our reading lives.
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