As I was reading (a few books ago), I started thinking about this idea of a strong female character, mainly the heroine of the story. It became obvious very quickly that there were different ways in which female characters can be strong. Diana Peterfreund (For Darkness Shows the Stars) is completely accurate with this.
Don’t get me wrong–I love heroines who know how to throw a perfect punch and survive physically demanding challenges. (I’m looking at you, Rose Hathaway and Katniss Everdeen.) They’re great role models.
But I think there are other female heroines who are meeker, quieter who don’t get as much recognition for being strong. I think these girls are the ones who deserve the most attention because they are by far the more interesting characters.
In a lot of books, the reason that hero or heroine is our narrator is because they are, somehow or another, a “chosen one” in the world they live in. Harry Potter, The Goddess Test, even Bella Swan is chosen because she’s special in some way. And all of this is great, but…
What about those girls who aren’t special? What if they happen to be fairly normal? (I realize I’m using “normal” somewhat ironically as my two key examples are paranormal stories.)
The book that inspired this was Elegy by Tara Hudson. I really found over the course of the trilogy that Amelia was the kind of character who wasn’t particularly special in her world. She died, got stuck as a ghost like some do, and she faced off against the bad guys without any special powers to her name. She was just a girl who did what she knew inside she had to do to protect those near her.
I find that inspiring. Amelia, who was originally nothing special, went on to do some pretty spectacular things just because she loved deeply and wanted to protect them. Most of the time she didn’t have the physical strength to best her enemies; she had to use her brain to outwit them.
There’s another character who is also very similar to this. Kaylee Cavanaugh of the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent is a banshee, but she’s nothing special outside of that. She ticked off the wrong people and became a target. That’s it. She’s not the “chosen one”, just an unfortunate girl. She also has to use her brains to outsmart her enemies.
One thing about both of these girls is that they are willing to sacrifice everything in order to stop the bad guys. Sacrifice is a huge theme in these books. It’s almost to a fault because they are so unselfish. If you think about it, Harry Potter was the same way. Their friends all know it’s only a matter of time before they’ll try to risk everything to protect others.
I like what these books show girls. Because it’s not all about finding love (though these characters certainly do), it’s about knowing what is worth protecting. I don’t advocate someone going to the extremes like Kaylee and Amelia do, but I think it’s important for girls to really understand who–and what–is worth fighting for. Because girls have the inner strength to make a difference in the world, the same way Kaylee and Amelia do in theirs.