Curtsies & Conspiracies chronicles Sophronia's continuing efforts to construct her own identity and find a place for herself in my tea-drenched steampunk world. Of course, the problem is, how does a girl build an identity when she is a spy, and her stock in trade is to assume many different identities? This, in the end, is Sophronia's real challenge. My favorite young adult fiction explores similar issues of self discovery and self worth. Below I've chosen five books ranging in genre but all of them tackle this concept of discovering purpose and position in the world.
Ask the Passengersby A.S. King A contemporary YA novel about difficult families (and
particularly impossible mothers) and one young woman's struggle to come out. Ask
the Passengers offers up the female perspective on finding space and
perception in life when everything seems hopelessly skewed.
Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause This brilliant, sexy YA book did urban fantasy before
we knew that's what it was called. Blood and Chocolate is romantic, fast
paced, and a true insight into what it might be like to be a teen girl but also
a werewolf. The main character is strong, powerful, and has a genuine path to
self actualization, independence, and familial responsibility. We should all be
so lucky as to have young girls read and want to be Vivian.
Ash by Malinda Lo This is a retelling of the Cinderella story
except that Ash's love interests are a male fairy of the dark and tortured
variety and a fierce female huntress
steeped in pagan rights--the prince is a mere side character. The story is a
comfortable, evocative read--easy to pick up and put down, yet absorbing and
Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw The story of a slave spy in ancient Egypt, Mara,
Daughter of the Nile is one of my favorite books of all time. Sweeping
and romantic, if follows Mara, a young slave girl with a gift for languages
whose innately duplicitous nature leads her to take on the role as a double
agent and help overthrow a pharaoh. Mara is a pure trickster and as such too
unsympathetic a character for some, but I love her. The book is politically potent
and absorbing while also managing a vibrant portrayal of what life might have
been like in ancient Egypt.
is essentially a police noir detective novel starring a tough young woman and
set in a fantasy universe full of colorful characters and living legends. No
one writes young, smart, strong, witty female protagonists as well as Tamora
Pierce. No one. Bekka is quiet, charming, soft spoken, and full of heart, yet
thoughtful and calculating with a will of iron. What's not to love?