As many of you know, I love a strong heroines. When I started planning this post, that’s what my mission was: find strong role model heroines. But as I really got digging, I realized that what most of the girls I picked had in common wasn’t necessarily that they were physically strong, but that they were unafraid of being who they are. So with that theme in mind, here are 10 females who are going to be who they are, even if you don’t like it.
Jordan from Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
I cannot express to you how much I love Jordan. I must’ve read this at a time when I wasn’t liking other female characters or something because she has always stood out to me. She plays football, she’s totally one of the guys, and she’ll dish it without hesitation. But ask her to wear a dress and heels? Or talk to other girls? Jordan is a fish out of water. I loved that attitude because I feel that tomboys/athletic girls are underrepresented in YA. Girls, be proud of who you are!
Reagan from Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Reagan is a ball of sarcasm and sass. But she’s fiercely protective of her best friend, Dee. What I love most about Reagan is her spunk. She’s not afraid to stand up for Dee or say what’s on her mind. Sometimes, she even plays into her darker, edgier personality because she knows something needs to be said. I respect that she’s so willing to face criticism in the name of standing up for others. True, this does make her come off as brash and, occasionally, offensive, but she’s a good friend at heart. Dee is a lucky girl.
Jessamin from Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
In this fantasy novel, Jessamin is in a racial minority, but she owns it. She will not let anyone talk bad about where she comes from or get away with racist comments. She’s terrifically strong, stubborn, and clever. But perhaps what I liked best about this book (and Jessamin by extension) was its Feminist approach to the story. Jessamin does not play into female stereotypes if she can help it. She will do everything on her own, and she’s not afraid to look a little foolish in the process. That is strength. (Seriously, looking like an idiot in front of others is incredibly hard.)
Leesie from Taken By Storm by Angela Morrison
Leesie is the first of 3-4 girls on this list who are unafraid to quietly stand behind their principles. Leesie, as a Mormon, constantly has others question her faith. Others, like her crush Michael, don’t understand her faith. But she’s ok with that because she knows who she is. And that kind of solid assurance was exactly what I wanted to feature in this post. In the sea of physically strong females, Leesie has inner strength that comes from loving yourself and understanding your own needs and desires. She may not be able to accurately shoot an arrow from 100 yards, but she can still be strong.
Ismae from Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
As an assassin for Death himself, Ismae needs to be all kinds of strong. Not just physically, but mentally as well. She needs to be sure of her purpose, of her faith that Death (or Mortain, as he is known in the story) is guiding her hand. As if I wasn’t impressed enough already with her being an assassin, Ismae is also strong enough to find answers to questions she’d rather not ask. Again, that’s an underrated quality. Instead of shying away from anything she doesn’t want to hear, she faces it head-on and deals with the fallout.
Caymen from The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
When one works in a porcelain doll shop for years, one develops an interesting way of looking at the world. Enter Caymen, who hides behind layers of dry humor, sarcasm, and obscure references that she’s sure few will get. (And the ones who don’t get them aren’t worth her time.) She’s so subtle with her sarcasm sometimes that her victims aren’t aware that they’ve been targets of her wit. I respect her for her sarcasm because it takes a certain amount of strength to be so sure of yourself that you don’t care if others are angry at you for what you’ve said. Caymen bites.
Harper from Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
What I like about Harper is initially what I didn’t like about her: the fact that she’s a super girly-girl who participates in things like Cotillion and beauty pageants. Harper owns this, though. She knows who she is and, even when others make fun of her, keeps doing what she’s always done. When her life turns completely upside down (as life often does in novels), she handles it with the grace you would expect from a Southern belle. And I love that she’s brave enough to hang onto that part of her identity through everything. (Also, she’s full of spunk and sarcastic quips, which I love.)
Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I nearly cried the whole way through this book because Cath was me. What I love about Cath is that even though she’s scared of so much, she’s ok with being this fanfiction writer. She’s the shy nerd girl that most of us are inside but rarely let the world see. And that’s the side Cath showed to the world. It takes a lot of strength to be unafraid to share unusual pieces of yourself to the world. I respect her for her quiet demeanor and her writing because these things set her apart from others, like her outgoing twin sister. We’re not all outgoing or loud or social. Sometimes we just need a girl like Cath to look up to.
Julia from Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Julia is a lot like Cath from Fangirl: she’s quiet and fascinated by books. In fact, she’s given the nickname “book licker” for it. She’s also a rule-follower and an unapologetic know-it-all. Characters made fun of her a lot for these qualities, but she doesn’t care. She’s not going to start breaking rules because that’s what’s cool. She’s not going to dumb herself down for anyone to keep from intimidating them. I love this about her because I feel that so many girls change themselves in order to fit in with a new crowd or to impress a guy, and here’s Julia who can’t be bothered to even listen to their jokes. And her best line from the book? “Why does everything think a girl who prefers books to people must be in want of a life?” Well said, Julia.
Rosaline from Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub
Could there be a more independent-minded character in all of classic literature than Rosaline, the girl who turned down Romeo’s affections? Rosaline is stubborn and determined to do what she wants to do. In Verona, where everyone is still worried about the feud between the Montagues and Capulets, Rosaline is unafraid to be her own woman. She doesn’t need or want anyone telling her what to do. (Also, I just really happened to love how different she is from Juliet, but that’s really not here nor there.) I love how strong she is to handle so much death in her family and still stay true to who she is. (There’s more, but I can’t say it without spoilers!) Suffice it to say she’s overcome a lot to get to where she is.