This summer, the VIP Center on campus organized a Feminist Fellowship book circle. We met every other week and discussed feminist novels, memoirs, and poetry from all generations of writers. Recently the book circle was renewed into the fall semester, and our current read is Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Even though we've covered a lot of material in the past few months, I wanted to share the most extraordinary feminist novels I read in 2020. With this list in hand, you'll never run out of great books to read!
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
I've seen reviews everywhere praising this book, and I have to say it lives up to the hype. Not only is the diversity in the novel excellent, but the relationship development, mythology, and real-world revelations are incredible. What I loved most about this story was the commentary on the Black Lives Matter movement, specifically the commentary on what it means to be a woman in the world today. As someone who loves reading about intersectional feminism, I felt that this novel could be used as a tool to study modern interpretations of feminism in literature.
I highly recommend this book to fans of The Princess Bride (1987) movie. Author Sarah Henning does an extraordinary job merging this new retelling with the original film. I love the genderswapped storyline! In Henning's version, her "Buttercup" is Princess Amarande, a warrior and brave leader, who suddenly has to take charge of her kingdom. However, patriarchy is always in the way! I was impressed with how Amarande stood up for herself right away. As soon as the book began, she quickly knew what she wanted and what she hoped to achieve. My favorite aspect of Amarande's character is how confident she is in her own abilities; she's never conceited or selfish, but fully aware of how powerful she is.
Fable by Adrienne Young
This book just came out on September 1st, and I need people to read it so we can talk about it! It was a struggle to not stay up all night and read it in one sitting. The adventure is compelling, the characters are intriguing, the romance isn't sappy, and the cliffhanger was emotional but not heartbreaking. Fable is such an unusual heroine - she's brash but kind, loyal but independent. Her thoughts and feelings were relatable, almost as if I was experiencing them myself. I'm so proud of my amazing dredger queen, and I can't wait for her to get the happy ending she deserves!
There are countless reasons to love this feminist read. In this novel, women are ruling over a fantasy magic African kingdom. Also, all women can marry whomever they want, male or female! I love the concept that two queens can rule side by side. Princess Karina is one of the main characters in the story. Her character development is extraordinary as the reader sees her rise from an unloved princess to a powerful ruler! Her rise into leadership is so beautifully written that it seems effortless. She's so realistic too; she has confident days, and the next day, she struggles to get out of bed. This is also the first book in a new series, so there's more to come.
Want the feeling of reading an epic fantasy series in just one standalone book? In this book, author Rebecca Ross packs so much female friendship bonding into 462 pages. Evadne and Halcyon start off with a strong sisterly bond, but over time, they come to see each other as powerful women in their own right. The first moment Halcyon saw her sister carry a sword made me so emotional! She was so proud of her baby sister. Speaking of strong, powerful women, this book is full of them. Halcyon's captain is also a woman, Evadne and Halcyon's mom is so loving and protective, and Cosima learns of another woman in trouble and goes to heal her despite her personal feelings towards her. All these women help and support each other whenever they can, and it's amazing.
What is traded for classic storytelling is replaced with something better: cultural and gender diversity, storytelling experimentation, gorgeous diction, and a beautiful book cover. I love the impressive LGBTQ+ representation, feminist themes, and modern messages. Florian/Flora and Evelyn are a gorgeous couple, both in mind and spirit. What I admire is that the author didn't dilute her fantasy land into a perfect world. Even though there are no white characters, there is still a system of privilege. The author shows that privilege and suppression can exist anyway and that there will always be a battle between good and evil.
In this novel, author Elana K. Arnold integrates the fairytale plot into a real setting with such ease. The merging of magic and reality seems effortless. I love how all the female characters protect and care for each other! Each of them interpreted feminism in their own way, and I found myself relating to them all at different times. I appreciate that this book wasn't afraid to tackle difficult subjects such as harassment, rape, toxic masculinity, mental and physical abuse, and sexism.