3. Tbh my favorite characters from all of the Disney princess movies aren’t even the princesses. I’m all about the sassy sidekick animals. My favorites include Meeko from Pocahontas, Maximus and Pascal from Tangled, and Mushu and Cri-Kee from Mulan.
2. Cinderella: Name a book that kept you reading well past your bedtime
This is one of the books I’ve been seeing popping up on every book review blog that has any YA review on it, and I’ve seen a lot of hype around it. The series follows a set of triplet princesses who, early in their childhood and like all of their ancestors before them, are separated and raised in different villages to hone their specific powers that they will one day use to kill their two other sisters for the throne. I grabbed it at my local library when I saw it on their new book shelf, and although it took me a while to get into it as it was really hard to connect to the three main characters, I ended up being so involved and attached at the end, especially to Arsione. I finished it before realizing its sequel doesn’t come out until September, and never have I been so disappointed.
So I know this book isn’t 100% a romance book, but that’s kind of what I like about it. It’s all about different types of love in the midst of revolutionary France. There’s the love for family, love for friends, love for brothers in arms, love for romance, and love for country – and all of them are depicted perfectly. It’s a beautiful tale of the relationship between the resiliency of humanity and hope. Although most of the book follows a different character, Marius and Cosette’s love story is beautiful and shows how sometimes love is just meant to be, and how it will persist above all else – even distance, even a war, and even death.
This is my favorite book I read last year, and definitely within my top 10 favorites of all time. It follows the story of a Mexican family that has legally migrated to America following an accident that has caused their daughter to develop a mental deficit. Despite the fact that they are leaving behind a good home, all of their family, and everything they’ve ever known, they trade the comfort of Mexico to get a better education for their daughter in the United States as there are no special education programs available in Mexico for her. They end up sacrificing more than they ever imagined, and it is simply just such a beautiful story of what parents will do for their children and for their family.
So, I had a bit of a hard time finding one book I wanted to choose, but this series is full of incredible heroines and role models for young girls. There’s demigoddesses such as Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena; Hazel Levesque and Bianca de Angelo, daughters of Hades; Thalia Grace, daughter of Zeus; and more. There are also other female characters such as the oracle Rachel Dare that show how badass girls can be, and I honestly think that the girls are the ones who really carry the main characters on their backs throughout the stories.
This was one of the first worldly books I ever read, after spending 11 years in a private predominately white Catholic school where what I read was pretty censored. It opened my eyes to whole new cultures and religions, and its story of friendship and the strength of humanity even among such cultural and social differences, always inspired me. It shows how two boys, despite their positions in completely different Afghani castes, still manage to create a friendship that survives throughout the tumult of the country falling apart around them. It is one of the first books I recommend whenever someone asks me what they should read next.
Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin
Honestly, this was the first book/series that popped into my mind when I read this prompt, and for good reason. There’s more than one kick-ass female character in this series: you’ve got Daenerys, the Stark women, Brienne, Cersei (even though I hate her), Melisandre (hate her, too), Ygritte, Meera, Yara, Margaery… the list goes on and on and ON. What’s made even better by their kick-assery is that they usually pull some shit over on the guys in the story, and I just know that one of these fierce women is going to end up on the throne at the end of the series. All of them are unique characters onto their own, and I love them (even the ones I hate) for very different reasons. Martin has created a slew of incredible characters, but I really think his women are the best of them all.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Trying to mix it up with a little bit of non-fiction here, you see? Of course the first thing I thought when I saw “self-made” was my man, Alexander Hamilton. Am I someone who has fed into the craze following Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical of the same name? Admittedly, yes. But Hamilton deserves that appreciation, especially now, hundreds of years later as his legacy continues on. He did so much for our country without ever being president (despite his wishes), and he did it all despite having a less than auspicious beginning. Born in the West Indies as a bastard and soon enough orphan, he had to fight for every piece of knowledge he gained and every skill he developed. Was he also extremely lucky to fall into the positions he did? Yes, of course; but he also worked immensely hard to maintain those positions and his legacy.
10. Rapunzel: Name a book featuring an artist
Okay, so I’m not even 100% sure how I stumbled upon this book, but it is brilliant. The plot of this book surrounds an artist who is hired by a businessman to replicate one of Paolo Uccello’s legendary pieces, and who uproots his daughter to escape from their own past of family secrets to China. While trying to get in the mindset of Uccello and look at his artwork, they uncover that some of the pieces may not have been created by Uccello, but by his daughter, Antonia. Not only is the story an incredible statement on the relationships of families and father/daughters specifically, especially as it spans across time, but also a statement on gender and how women, especially in history, are/were marginalized and forgotten despite their equal amount of talent. Plus – look at how beautiful this cover is!!
11. Merida: Mother-daughter relationship
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
I read this book in the sixth grade after my mom tried to get us to join a mother/daughter book club through my local Girl Scouts that she quickly lost the ability to keep up with because she’s a spazz. Anyway. At this point in my life, I was incredibly sheltered; very few of my friends didn’t have both parents at home with them, and I didn’t have a lot of non-white people in my community. The Secret Life of Bees opened my eyes to the world beyond what was my narrow version of it; it follows a girl who, after losing her mother, is basically all but adopted by a black woman and who has to flee with her after insulting racists in the south in the 60s. They escape to South Carolina and a beekeeping farm where other women of color work and help raise the main girl, and help her resolve her feelings about her mother’s death. I remember being a lot more grateful for my mother after reading this book, as well as a lot more culturally aware.
To be honest, I struggled a lot with trying to pick a book for this one, and for some reason this one kept popping back into my head. I think it’s because Jem and Scout’s relationship is so real: they fight, but also protect one another from external threats; they share an exasperation but appreciation for their father; and Jem, the eldest, gets annoyed when his little sister follows in his footsteps. Although the book is definitely not about their sibling relationship, I think that it adds a very important factor and subplot to the book that it couldn’t do without. I still haven’t read Go Set a Watchman though, but I can’t wait to see if there is any more elaboration on their relationship in that novel.