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July 8, 2015

Introducing Woman Crush Wednesday: Ladies of Literature Edition!

Posted by Maya

Welcome to our first post of #wcw --- Woman Crush Wednesday! We here at The Book Report Network know that your 20s are a time of figuring out yourself and how this world works --- and in order to do that, no matter your gender, you can’t have just the male perspective! And all too often, that’s the only perspective that gets talked about. Women can be anything and everything! So we’ve decided to feature some awesome and inspiring ladies of literature every Wednesday, from authors to poets to the female protagonists who remind us that women are so much more than only sidekicks and love interests. We’ll share our literary lady crushes, and no matter who you are, we hope you’ll find something in their stories that speaks to you!

Jeanna: I'LL BE RIGHT THERE by Kyung-Sook Shin, translated by Sora Kim-Russell
This outstanding novel --- which showcased the lovely Jung Yoon on her journey through college and beyond --- deserves more attention. Kyung-Sook Shin's voice resonates with readers, depicting a captivating cast of independent characters that are both relatable and gorgeous. The collaboration between author, Shin, and translator, Sora Kim-Russell, suggests a genius match --- breathing life into a masterpiece.

Maya: AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The first time I read this book I felt like I knew what it was to breathe for the first real time. I had never encountered an author --- and a character, as Ifemelu speaks as comfortably and articulately as her author about her experiences --- who crafted such an honest narrative about race and womanhood so seamlessly into a contemporary story. Adichie herself is certainly a #wcw in her own right --- her TED Talk is so crucial and engaging it inspired not only me, but Beyoncé! Yet Ifemelu is certainly one of the most unique, relatable and important women in contemporary fiction. She knows what it’s like to be fetishized for her race, to be told it’s flattering, to have white men tell her which parts of herself she’s supposed to love and supposed to hide. She navigates this world messily and tidily at once --- through fights with her boyfriends, one night stands, impromptu travels and, of course, her blog. Through her story, though I am not African, I found not only a deeper respect and humbleness for the experiences of African women in America, but also echoes of my own story as a young woman growing up in this country, especially as one who isn’t white. I think her voice is valuable to all readers. Adichie is now an idol of mine in so many ways, and Ifemelu has become one of those characters I consider one of my literary best friends.

Marco: THE GIRLS OF SUMMER by Jeré Longman
My #wcw is the women of the U.S. National Team, not the ones who just won in Canada, but the 99ers. The women of  '99 made it possible for us to recognize and appreciate the accomplishments of stars such as Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach and Hope Solo. THE GIRLS OF SUMMER by Jeré Longman shows all the struggles and diversity of the women that went on to win the World Cup at the Rose Bowl and become national heroes. Players such as Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy became role models for young women everywhere across the country and still are today.

Nikki: ON IMMUNIZATION by Eula Biss
ON IMMUNIZATION came out about a year ago (September 2014) and was an instant hit, receiving multiple accolades across the internet airwaves. Like many other readers out there, this is the only Biss I’ve read (she has two other published books), but I’m excited for her future works, as she’s become a personal favorite of mine. Her writing is intensely motivated by personal experience, which lends a certain feeling of intimacy and poignancy to the decisive subject matter at hand: whether or not we should vaccinate the nation’s youth. Her arguments are elegant and inquisitive as she draws connections to a multitude of other prominent literary works and stories. Eula’s my very first #wcw, mostly because she addresses an extremely important topic from a nuanced perspective, but also because she’s been compared to Joan Didion, who will always be the lifelong apple of my eye.

Hannah: I-330, from WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin
I-330 is a female antihero-type character in Zamyatin's satirical novel WE, which was banned in the U.S.S.R. after being released in 1924 and was only allowed to be published there in 1988. She breaks almost every rule of the communist state, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, wearing lipstick, dressing in anachronistic outfits, engaging in unscheduled sexual liaisons, etc. She helps lead a revolution against the One State and dies; the novel ends similarly to 1984. Yet she leaves a trace of hope that the totalitarian system will be toppled. Go girl power!!!