I recently finished the final short story in my upcoming collection. Until today, it was untitled, but, inspired by the amazing Florence & The Machine (and a rush hour of karaoke), I’ve decided to call it Pieces. It’s about the relationship between a girl and her twin, who committed suicide after a traumatic experience at a party, and what’s left of the girl who remains.
It got me thinking about girls, and how we live, how we view ourselves. The collection itself is called Weltanschauung, a German word meaning ‘worldview’. All the stories say something about how we view the world, and how the world views us. I wanted to make a list of all the books that inspire me, not just in my own writing, but in everyday life. This is to the girls.
All The Rage
by Courtney Summers
Creator of the trend #ToTheGirls2016, All The Rage is a beautifully written, hauntingly accurate depiction of life after sexual assault. Summers doesn’t shy away from the less-than-savoury aspects of life, but neither is she needlessly graphic when it comes to the details. Her characters are fully shaped and real; her prose inspires belief in a world where women are not believed.
A brilliant novel that slices right to the heart of what being a girl in this day and age entails. Summers deals with the subject of rape delicately yet honestly. She doesn’t shy away from the horror, and yet there is still light shining through the pages. She is clearly a young feminist, fully aware of the issues around her, and has managed to cover so many of them in what felt like far too short a book. An absolute triumph. This book really is all the rage.
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.
With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?
Trigger warnings: Rape, sexual assault
by Laurie Halse Anderson
As discussed in other posts, I struggled with an eating disorder as a teenager. Without wanting to downplay just how serious it is, eating disorders were widespread when I was at school, which says a lot about the society in which we live. Girls making themselves sick in the toilets was a regular sight; bringing in concoctions promising to help them shed the pounds; fainting, dizzy spells, hunger pains. These are the friends we grew up with, and Anderson perfectly depicts this need to be thin, to fade away, that seems to haunt so many teenage girls (and boys).
“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.
Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.
Trigger warnings: Eating disorders, self-harm
Exit, Pursued By A Bear
by E.K. Johnston
I picked this up only last night, and managed to tear through half of it when I should have been sleeping. Johnston creates a world of bubbly cheerleaders, healthy and full of youthful strength, and a hidden darkness that is familiar to every woman. A poignant story, timeless, and, sadly, relevant, particularly with the Brock Turner case fresh in our minds.
Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.
In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.
Trigger warnings: Rape, sexual assault, date-rape
The Way I Used To Be
by Amber Smith
This is another new one for me, still on my to-read pile. Smith’s debut has been seemingly well-received, and describes the, once again, sadly familiar tale of when a boy you know breaks your trust and discards your right to consent.
Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.
What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.
Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year.
Trigger warnings: Rape, sexual assault, abuse
The Ice Cream Girls
by Dorothy Koomson
Dorothy Koomson is one of those writers I envy with all of my being. She writes from the heart, detailing heart-breaking stories that we all know so well. I watched the TV adaptation of The Ice Cream Girls before picking up the book. Both were hard-hitting; both showed the pain and anguish caused by men who take advantage of young women.
As teenagers Poppy Carlisle and Serena Gorringe were the only witnesses to a tragic event. Amid heated public debate, the two seemingly glamorous teens were dubbed ‘The Ice Cream Girls’ by the press and were dealt with by the courts.
Years later, having led very different lives, Poppy is keen to set the record straight about what really happened, while married mother-of-two Serena wants no one in her present to find out about her past. But some secrets will not stay buried – and if theirs is revealed, everything will become a living hell all over again…
Trigger warnings: Sexual assault, abuse, child abuse
by Lauren Oliver
My first impression of this book was that it was all over the place. The narrator wasn’t always clear, and the style was often confusing, flipping between before the accident and after. But, as I got closer to the end, the reason for this hit me with an almost physical force. The twists and turns this novel take the reader on are both shocking and gripping, and it is for this reason that I managed to devour the book in a day. The carefully layered prose and intense emotions threaded through the pages kept me absorbed and intrigued from beginning to end.
The writing style very much reminded me of Gillian Flynn. Thrilling, dark, and full of suspense, this book will take you on a psychological journey that you won’t forget in a hurry.
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.
In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.
by Sarah Pinborough
Mean Girls turns deadly in Pinborough’s excellent YA novel. 13 Minutes centres around Tasha and her two friends, and the drama of being a teenager, where everything seems so much more serious than it is. But what happens between the three girls really is serious, and a fourth girl, Becca, is unlucky enough to be caught up in the whirlwind.
13 Minutes is an exceptionally crazy story, full of twists and turns, until you don’t know which way is up and who the hell to believe.
I was dead for 13 minutes.
I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?
Fever by Megan Abbott
Speak by Lauren Halse Anderson
Cracked Up To Be, Some Girls Are, This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
When I Was Invisible by Dorothy Koomson
Only Ever Yours, Asking For It by Louise O’Neill
Have you read any of the books on this list? Which ones would you add to it? Let me know in the comments below!