Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves – Female Protagonists in Young Adult Novels

According to NPR, there is a powerful group of young readers referred to as “The Book Girls” that are single-handedly driving the market for young adult novels and are responsible for their massive popularity. However, young adult novels are not so much a genre as a loosely defined cluster of books from many different genres. The one common denominator that links many of these books together are their strong female characters. Young adult novels are appealing to both young women and adults because they allow the reader to carve out an imaginative space where one can fight the system, find personal truth, and design their own destiny.  If you wish to continue your exploration of young adult novels, their inspiring characters and the worlds they inhabit, or you need a few more items on your book list, here are some suggestions that offer strong, smart, and brave female protagonists.


The Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood

This series perfectly integrates magic, destiny, and power struggles in an exciting way. Cate, the eldest of three sisters, carries the burden of a secret that must be kept in order to keep her sisters safe: their magical powers. Cate’s priority is always to protect her sisters from outside forces while she discovers what a certain prophecy might mean for the fate of her family. Whatever the outcome, these sisters are a force to be reckoned with.


Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Cath and her twin sister have started their freshman year of college, but Cath’s sister seems to be adjusting more smoothly to college life. Although she’s anxious about their time apart, Cath has a huge following of online readers who eagerly devour her popular fan fiction to keep her company. She has the courage to find her passion and work diligently towards her writing goals, but learns to strike a balance between her online life and the real world.


I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith


Cassandra lives in an old English castle with her family, a cast of vibrant and unique characters, where they live day to day without much excitement. Her world changes when two American men move to town and become close with the family. Cassandra deals with complicated and confusing relationships, falling in love, and records these changes in her personal journal. The diary-style writing provides an intimate look at Cassandra’s teenage experience.

Vanessa Wright