Book Characters Who Make Us Proud to Be Women

It’s Wednesday!  We made it halfway through the week!

With Women’s History Month coming to a close, I wanted to share some fiction women who gave me some very real feelings.  These amazing, inspirational women are a great reminder of why we need Women’s History Month, and what this month means to us.  So here it is, my list of book characters who make us proud to be women!


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Shekiba from The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

Shekiba suffered a severe burn to her face when she was a toddler, and it changed her life forever. Half of her face remained while the other half built unsightly scar tissue. She was picked on relentlessly, and she could hardly blame her tormenters. Physical deformations were not easily forgiven in Kabul in these times, which meant there was no chance of her ever finding a husband and leaving her home. Even her own grandmother could not stand to look at her and treated her worse than the house servants. Shekiba later finds a job working as a guard for the king’s concubines, with one condition:  she must become a bacha posh, must assume the life and appearance of a man.  This allows her freedoms she never imagined: wearing pants, doing away with her headscarf, and walking around the palace as she pleases.  What was once seen as her biggest weakness turns into her greatest strength: she uses her near-invisibility to live the life she’s always wanted.

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Sarah from Mitzi Bytes by Kerry Clare

Kerry Clare’s debut novel Mitzi Bytes centres around the strong, unapologetic Sarah Lundy. Her secret online persona, Mitzi, allows her to blog honestly about her life without fear of being found out. Names of the people in her life are changed to ensure their anonymity, leaving no possible way that Mitzi’s true identity could be revealed… until it happens.  Thrust into a world where everyone is an enemy, Sarah is forced to confront the people she wrote about and does not shy away from them.  She owns what she did, what she wrote, how she felt; she apologizes if she has hurt their feelings, but she is not sorry for telling the truth. Sarah Lundy is the fierce, resilient Harriet the Spy of our time.
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Jialing from Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang

At the age of seven, Jialing patiently waits for her mother to return to their room like she always does. Days and weeks go by, and Jialing finds herself alone, abandoned by the one other human she interacted with. She begins to work as a bond servant for the estate’s new owners, the Yangs, who agree to take her in even though she is zazhong – Eurasian.  Despite years of “servitude” (which borders on slavery), abuse, neglect, and prejudice, Jialing is determined to make something of herself.  Murder, forbidden love, money, and drugs all play their part in Jialing’s world as she decides what she can live without. With no family and virtually no friends, Jialing rises to the occasion and demands the respect she knows she deserves.
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Rose from The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

Montreal in the 20th Century wasn’t kind to anyone. It was especially unkind to Rose, who managed to become an outcast among other unwanted children in the orphanage where she grew up. She is constantly punished, and more severely so than the other children, and there is one Sister that seems to despise her. One of these punishments had Rose stuffed in a cupboard for days without being let out—not to eat, go to the bathroom, or even breathe.  But Rose never lets the bad things get to her. She becomes a strong, influential, hilarious woman that many men don’t know what to make of.



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Martha from The Little Old Lady series by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

Who said old ladies had to be cute and innocent? Martha Andersson smashes that stereotype and plans an escape from her nursing home on a hunt to rob Las Vegas’ biggest casino. Martha is well-spoken, sneaky, and extremely… resourceful. I won’t spoil it for you, but Martha and her League of Pensioners are grossly underestimated.

Starr from The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter is sixteen years old when her lifelong best friend Khalil is fatally shot by police. Starr was in the passenger seat next to him.  Khalil is immediately painted as a thug, a drug dealer, a gangbanger. The press will do anything to make his death seem less tragic, less like murder. Almost like he had it coming. Starr is the only one who knows what really happened that night, and her words could make or break the case. She is pushed full force into adulthood and the very real consequences of whether she chooses to speak up. She is unyielding, unforgiving, and on a mission to get the truth out – no matter what it takes.

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Jo from The Fire by Night by Theresa Messino

In a makeshift medical tent in war-torn France, Jo McMahon is trying desperately to keep her six patients alive. After a bomb destroys the tent and her supplies, she uses all of her strength to stay alive to save the men. Jo has experienced so much loss – she doesn’t know how much more she can take when the soldier she falls in love with disappears. Determined to stay strong and positive, Jo moves on after the war and tries not to pine for the Scottish soldier.  he finds full-time work and does everything in her power to stay occupied and find her own happiness.
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Pen from Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

Pen pushes the boundaries of what is expected of her as a teenage girl. Pen has struggled with her gender and identity her whole life, fighting with the options of pleasing her parents or listening to her own heart.  Pen doesn’t fit the traditional expectations of femininity:  she wears her hair short, she wears loose clothing, and she does stereotypically masculine work.  She has never felt like a boy in a girl’s body – she is happy with the way she is, and wishes everyone else was, too.  Pen learns to love herself despite what others say, and she learns to cut toxic people out of her life.

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The women of Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

I couldn’t pick just one woman from this book, so I’ve chosen all four: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden. These women were responsible for some of NASA’s greatest and earliest successes.  Segregated in their all-black “West Computing” group, these women stepped up to the challenge and proved themselves immeasurably valuable to scientific discovery—and proved many racist Americans completely wrong.

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Maribeth from Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Maribeth is just another overloaded, under-appreciated mother. So much so that she is too busy to notice that she’s had a heart attack. Upon returning home from the hospital, Maribeth finds that her recovery is too inconvenient for her household, and so she leaves.  She packs her bags, leaving her husband to take care of the twins on his own—a seemingly impossible task that she has been doing for the last five years while working full-time.  Maribeth is a woman tired of being undervalued, and is a forceful reminder to thank our own mothers for their sacrifices.

These women always remind me how strong we are, and how we’re stronger still when we bring each other up.


Which are your favourite female book characters?  Why do they make you proud to be a woman?  Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SavvyReader.

Happy reading,

Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @danielle10_06

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Canadian publishing professionals and bloggers. Looking for savvy readers to talk books with us!

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