The New York Public Library recently shared a list of feminist fiction for teens. For the full list and article, check out their website.
Here are some of highlights (click on the titles to request a copy):
Young Adult literature is filled with smart, strong, brave, butt-kicking female characters. So when I say "feminist" I don’t just mean fiction with strong, female characters—that’s a given. What I mean are novels that feature strong, female characters who either confront sexism, defy the patriarchal order, subvert gender expectations or celebrate female solidarity, or all of the above. These characters are often flawed and don’t always come out the other end unscathed but they are warriors and heroes all the same.
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
A year after she was raped at a party, Romy is still dealing with the aftermath and being called "liar" and "slut". When a girl in town goes missing Romy has good reason to suspect her rapist.
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Football-loving, farm girl D.J does a lot of the heavy work at her family's dairy farm—her father has broken his hip and her brothers are off to college. When she gets the chance to fitness train a rival team's star quarterback she jumps at it. Tired of always doing what's expected, she decides to try out for her high school football and surprises everyone by winning a place as a linebacker.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart
When Frankie's boyfriend refuses to tell her about the all-male secret society that he and his friends belong to at their boarding school, she calls their bluff and ups the ante. She infiltrates the society and proves that girls are the equals to boys when it comes to pranks—if not better.
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
Gabi, a high school senior, finds solace and empowerment through her journal writing and poetry as she deals with personal problems, her family and friends and forging her own identity.
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
Best friends Sahar and Nasrin have been in love with each other for years, but in modern day Iran being homosexual could get them arrested or killed. When Nasrin's parents arrange a marriage for her, Sahar decides to take desperate action so they can be together. She will get gender reassignment surgery and become a man so that she can marry her friend, but will she lose herself in the process?
Science Fiction/ Fantasy
Ash by Malinda Lo
In this retelling of Cinderella, Ash is a servant to her wicked stepmother and stepsisters but escapes as often as she can to the fairy wood behind her old house. When she gets the chance to attend a ball, the Prince finds her irresistible but it is the King's huntress Kaisa who has captured her heart.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
In the Seven Kingdoms, some people are born with “graces” or special talents, Katsa’s specialty is killing. Used and abused by her corrupt, royal uncle to be his “enforcer,” she balances this out by doing secret rescue missions where she dispenses her own form of justice.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
In 2025 California the world is in utter chaos. When the gated community where she lives is overrun, Lauren, who can literally feel someone else's pain, ventures into the savage unknown in search of safety. As people start traveling with her she begins to find a new family and even more importantly, forge a new destiny for herself and the people around her.
Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce
Starting with Alanna: The First Adventure, 11 year old Alanna lives in a world where young women are treated more like chattel, so she trades places with her twin brother and disguises herself as a boy so she can train as a knight. Follow her adventures as she grows up and struggles to be true to herself and true to the country she has vowed to protect.
Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Odilia, 16, and her four younger sisters must work together to return the body of a drowned man, they found while swimming in the Rio Grande, to his home across the border in Mexico. Their real mission, however, is to find their father who abandoned the family a year before. Along their journey, they are guided by heroes and monsters of Mexican mythology, including the evil sorceress La Llorona who may not be as evil as they previously thought.
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Raised as brother and sister, Emilia's and Teo's mothers, Rhoda and Delia were an all female, black and white stunt pilot team. When Delia is killed, Rhoda takes the children to live in Ethiopia to escape the prejudices of 1930s America and so Teo can to get to know his Ethiopian heritage. As WW2 breaks out, Teo and Em's own talent for flying comes into play and with her brother soon missing in action, Emilia must navigate the politics of war all on her own.
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
It's 1969 and 12 year old Mimi has just moved from Berkeley, California to an all-white small town in Vermont. Being half black and half Japanese, she's already an odd girl out but her love of science and goal of being an astronaut makes her even more of an outsider. She soon finds allies in a teacher who encourages her to enter the science fair and new friends who help her protest the school rule that only girls can take home ec and boys can take shop.
A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
In 1909 London, Victoria Darling has just been sent home in scandal from her French finishing school for getting caught posing nude during a life drawing class. Her parents are eager to marry her off to someone rich and boring but what Victoria really wants is to attend the Royal College of Art and become an artist. As she secretly applies to the school, she gets involved with the suffragettes and meets a handsome, young constable who is sympathetic to their cause.
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
In 19th century New York City, Jo Montfort is a rose of high society—a girl who is destined for nothing more than attending balls and tea parties, all in the hope of marrying well. However, what Jo really wants is to become a newspaper reporter just like her hero Nellie Bly. When her father mysteriously dies, Jo knows it can't have been an accident and that he must've been murdered. When Jo sets out to prove her theory she will risk everything to get at the truth.
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
The cynical and ironic Enid and Rebecca are life-long best friends but now that they have graduated from high school they are feeling the strains on their relationship. As they weather dead-end jobs, going off to college and boys, they wonder if their friendship will survive long distance, growing up and possibly growing apart.
Lumberjanes series by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Join Jo, Molly, Mal, April, and Ripley for an awesome, butt-kicking summer at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Girls Hardcore Lady Types. You'll help them earn their "Friendship to the Max" badge as they have late night investigations of mysterious light houses, trap-laden secret caves and suspicious goings on at the boys camp and more.
Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson
Kamala Khan is an ordinary Pakistani girl from Jersey City with pretty strict Muslim parents who is tired of being caught between their world and her world of school and parties. When she sneaks out the house one night, she's given special powers and transformed into Ms. Marvel. But does she need to be blonde and wear skimpy clothing to be a superhero or can she just be herself?
The Plain Janes by Cecil Castelluci
New to suburbia, after being injured in an explosion in the city, Jane forms a disparate group of outsider girls into a team of "art terrorists" called "People Loving Art in Neighborhoods" (P.L.A.I.N.). Defiant and unified, together they shake-up their conservative town and confound the authorities by performing art attacks such as putting bubbles in water fountains and wrapping objects on the street like Christmas presents.