Reading the inspirational Here We Are has us all fired up for every kickass feminist book we can get our hands on. At the top of that list is Jennifer Mathieu’s upcoming novel, Moxie, which tells the tale of Vivian Carter, who has Had It To Here with the sexist rules and double standards at her high school. Inspired by her Riot Grrrl mom, Viv takes it on herself to fight back by publishing a feminist zine—an act with major repercussions that ripple across her school’s social status quo.
But Moxie doesn’t hit the shelves until September, and if you’re anything like us, you’re definitely going to need some girl power before then. Here are five feminist reads that’ll have you raising hell while you wait.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart
Former good girl Frankie is no longer the quiet “bunny rabbit” she used to be. Tired of being thought of as her popular boyfriend’s arm candy, Frankie slowly decides it’s time to prove what she’s capable of—especially once she finds out said boyfriend is part of an all-male secret society. Infiltrating the society isn’t enough. Soon, Frankie has become the mastermind, orchestrating complicated pranks through her secret identity. But what will happen when the boys find out who’s behind their hijinks? Frankie, for one, might not care.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear, by E. K. Johnston
Hermione and Polly are co-captains of their cheerleading squad and life seems pretty good, until Hermione is drugged and raped on a night she can’t remember. Worse: she’s pregnant. But Hermione is determined to take back control of her body and her life, starting with not letting other people label her as just a victim. And throughout the fallout, her best friend, Polly, is by her side. Exit is a strong, poignant look at the aftermath of sexual assault, complete with an inspirational friendship and a powerful heroine.
The Lie Tree, by Francis Hardinge
Faith wants to be a scientist like her father, but her curiosity and intelligence are stifled under Victorian expectations for dutiful young women. When her father turns up dead by apparent suicide, Faith takes it on herself to solve what she knows was his murder—starting with investigating the mysterious tree her father was studying that feeds on lies and bears extraordinary fruit. But as Faith continues to investigate by manipulating the people around her, people who continue to see her as a uninteresting female, she realizes she’s not the only woman who’s more than she seems.
Under a Painted Sky, by Stacey Lee
It’s Missouri in 1849, and Chinese American Samantha dreams of becoming a professional musician. But soon after her father dies in a fire, Samantha finds herself a fugitive in the aftermath of her landlord’s attempt to sexually assault her. Rather than heading back to New York to pursue her dreams, Samantha finds herself hiding from the law with runaway slave Annamae. Disguised as boys, the two girls make their way over the Oregon Trail, falling in with a trio of cowboys as they try to stay ahead of their past. If you’re looking for strong female friendship in the wild west, this is the book for you.
If You Could Be Mine, by Sara Farizan
Sahar and her best friend, Nasrin, have been secretly in love for years—a crime in Iran that could lead to imprisonment or death. But when Nasrin’s parents arrange for her marriage, Sahar is forced to consider all her options for keeping their relationship alive, including sex reassignment. Legal and available, the surgery would allow Sahar and Nasrin to be together. It would also be a lie: Sahar doesn’t feel like a man in a woman’s body, she just feels like a girl in love with a girl. But would it be worth it if it allows them to be together? If You Could Be Mine is a powerful take on love, sexuality, and what it means to be a woman.