With the rise of modernity, we come to a world in YA literature where all proper heroines are gleefully trading in their gowns for breeches. But why?
Because dresses are a symbol of gentle femininity, of demure responses and calculated flirtations? While I am all for the rise of the strong woman in YA, I am a little confused as to why this means our fearless YA heroines cannot embrace their femininity with pride.
I am not a girly girl. Not in the least. I thrive upon lazy autumn days with combat boots and blue jeans and tank tops and one of my handful of faux leather jackets. I rarely wear makeup, but only because that is my vibe. Not because I think little of it. Not because I’m rebelling from the system. Honestly? It’s a good 90% because I’m too lazy to bother. Fancy days are bright red lipstick, mascara, and my hair properly straightened rather than twisted into a messy bun.
In this way, I relate to many of our pant-clad heroines, but I think in doing this we are creating a world where dresses and makeup and shopping are considered silly and weak. Not intentionally, perhaps… but where are the women in modern literature who enjoy these things and are still strong and brave?
And, lets be clear, it is possible from a fantasy heroine to POSITIVITY kick ass in a dress. Take Kahlen from Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind for example. That girl is a force of nature.
Something needs to change. It’s about time YA represents not only hero(ine)s of all shapes and sizes, of all sexual orientations and colors, but also of all dispositions. Not all girls are earthy and rough.
Enter Enne Salta.
Enne probably isn’t the first of these characters, but I really hope she won’t be the last. YA desperately needs to offer a little more variety in its heroines. Even in series where dressing up is part of the accepted culture, the heroine still vies for pants. America from The Selection comes to mind.
Enne does not ask for pants*.
*She might ask for pants? I’ve only read the first two chapters.
Enne is terrifically aware of of the etiquette of the people around her. She’s not only proper in her attire and her ballerina’s bun, but she behaves like a lady. She reminds me of a young Mary Poppins, and I mean that in all the best ways possible. She’s driven and doing what she must do, but there’s no need to get dirty in doing it.
YA needs more girls like Enne. Because in our world, there are girls like Enne, and they deserve to be represented, too!
Ace of Shades releases on April 10th, 2018
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