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Girl Talk: a guide to reading for young feminists and their allies

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Feminism has always been about how women are allowed to exist and express themselves. Still, from the beginning, the different ways in which individual women expressed themselves has led to struggles within the movement. "How should an “enlightened” woman behave and what she should strive for?" "What cultural variations and personal differences are tolerated by society and by women, themselves?" Today's feminism is seeking to move past this divisive dialog to recognize that all women should be celebrated and elevated.

Featured Book: We Are Okay (ebook) by Nina LaCour  

Winner of the 2018 Michael L. Printz Award, this achingly beautiful novel about grief and the enduring power of friendship is "an intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch."  You go through life thinking there's so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother. Marin hasn't spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she's tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that's been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. 

"LaCour paints a captivating depiction of loss, bewilderment, and emotional paralysis . . . raw and beautiful." ~ Booklist

"Bittersweet and hopeful . . . poetic and skillfully crafted." ~Shelf Awareness

"So lonely and beautiful that I could hardly breathe."~Stephanie Perkins

Treated as objects and possessions with a specific use throughout history, women are still subject to laws and societal practices that dictate the “proper way” for a woman to use and value her body. From business models that target female body insecurities to sell beauty products, to the debate on a woman’s right to choose how to practice her sexuality and fertility -- women are using the literary platform to explore the history of man-written laws that have lead to continued female objectification.

 

YA Feature: The Burning (ebook) by Laura Bates

A rumor is like fire. Once a whore, always a whore. Roses are red. Violets are blue. Anna's a slut. We all know it's true. And a fire that spreads online... is impossible to extinguish. New school. Check. New town. Check. New last name. Check. Social media profiles? Deleted. Anna and her mother have moved hundreds of miles to put the past behind them. Anna hopes to make a fresh start and escape the harassment she's been subjected to. But then rumors and whispers start, and Anna tries to ignore what is happening by immersing herself in learning about Maggie, a local woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century. A woman who was shamed. Silenced. And whose story has unsettling parallels to Anna's own. From Laura Bates, internationally renowned feminist and founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, comes a debut novel for the #metoo era. It's a powerful call to action, reminding all readers of the implications of sexism and the role we can each play in ending it.

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Relationships and conversations between women, whether tense or supportive, can showcase the range of the female perspective. Literary and cinematic depictions of these relationships reflect society’s perceived expectations of what type of challenges a woman faces. Modern storytellers have used concepts like the Bechdel Test to challenge the authenticity of female conversations within their work and reflect upon how much of a woman’s perceived problems are and should revolve around men. Explore girl to girl friendships, rivalries, and family dynamics through these titles.

YA Feature:  Unbecoming  (audio) by Jenny Downham 
Three women, three secrets, one heart-stopping story. Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can't reveal. Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her. Katie's grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and "capable of anything," despite suffering from Alzheimers. As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her. Rules get broken as allegiances shift. Is Mary contagious? Is "badness" genetic? In confronting the past, Katie is forced to seize the present. As Mary slowly unravels and family secrets are revealed, Katie learns to live and finally dares to love. Funny, sad, honest and wise, Unbecoming is a celebration of life, and learning to honour your own stories.

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  • Ophelia Speaks: adolescent girls write about their search for self by Sara Shandler
  • Reviving Ophelia by Mary Phipher
  • Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett

      

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With the feminist spotlight often shining on the courage and ground breaking achievements of women in the western world, the ideals of gender liberation can have a narrowed view on what it is to exist, as women today, in the world. And while women in different cultures certainly share some universal experiences, other difficulties are specific to a particular culture or political climate. Modern authors challenge readers to expand their definition of women's rights beyond the scope of their own experience by telling stories where the role of women in other cultures is impacted by history, race, religion, and other factors unique to them. As we gain awareness, we are more ready to support women, around the world, in seeking the changes they choose.

YA Feature: 96 Words for Love by rachel Roy and Ava Dash (audio)

Ever since her acceptance to UCLA, seventeen-year-old Raya Liston has been quietly freaking out. She feels simultaneously lost and trapped by a future already mapped out for her.Then her beloved grandmother dies, and Raya jumps at the chance to spend her last free summer at the ashram in India where her grandmother met and fell in love with her grandfather. Raya hopes to find her center and her true path. But she didn't expect to fall in love ... with a country of beautiful contradictions, her fiercely loyal cousin, a local girl with a passion for reading, and a boy who teaches her that in Sanskrit, there are ninety-six different ways to say the word "love." This is a modern retelling of the classic Indian legend of Shakuntala and Dushyanta, 96 Words for Love is a coming-of-age story about finding yourself in unexpected places.

 

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Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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