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December 15, 2015

Woman Crush Wednesday: 2015 Roundup!

Posted by Maya

Happy Holidays, and happy #wcw! Unseasonably warm as it is, December is half done and 2015 is coming to a close. This year saw so many incredible titles --- and so many wonderful women! We’re still working for female authors to receive the same support and recognition as male authors (the NY Times 2015 top male bestselling authors outnumber the females roughly 2:1...eurgh) but this year did showcase some truly wonderful stories by and about women! Today we feature the most inspirational, the most masterful and the most relatable ladies of literature in 2015. These girls and women emerged on the page this year, but they will be sure to stick with us for many years to come.

Maya: Ijeoma from UNDER THE UDALA TREES by Chinelo Okparanta
I wrote the review for this one, and if you read it by clicking the link above, you can likely see  how easy a choice this was for me. I loved so many ladies of literature this year, but reading Ijeoma felt like breathing for the first time. Okparanta created a character who fiercely inspires and motivates me, while also nurturing me and expressing solidarity. Ijeoma is a young woman born shortly before the Nigerian civil war, and she must survive the violent political devastation of her country while also navigating her identity as a woman who loves women. Being a nonblack American in 2015, I confronted crucial truths about a sociopolitical landscape we must strive to understand, and I learned about important realities from a voice with as much authority as poetry. Being a queer nonwhite woman with a cultural background outside America’s, I found resonances that reverberate strongly within me, resonances that I will carry with me for years to come. As Ijeoma struggles to reconcile her culture with her identity, I heard my own thoughts spoken through her voice. As she wonders at and fears for her position in a world so filled with homophobia and misogyny, my own innermost hopes and fears find a voice. Reading Ijeoma is fire and warmth all at once, inspiring righteous anger as well as fostering a sense of community and allegiance. It’s a book I must learn from, and a book I want others to read so they may begin learn about me. Ijeoma is undoubtedly my #wcw of 2015. If you haven’t read this book, I encourage you to do so. She is one of the most important characters I encountered this year, and the fact that few have heard of this title only makes its message all the more urgent. I am so glad a book like this exists. I am so glad Chinelo Okparanta exists, and I'm so glad Ijeoma exists! Definitely one of my favorite parts of 2015, honestly. I hope 2016 sees more ladies like this one.

Shara: Inej from SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo
In 2015, I had a huge crush on Inej from Leigh Bardugo’s September YA hit SIX OF CROWS. Inej acts as “the Wraith” --- the silent spy who surreptitiously crawls on roofs, sneaks onto windowsills and gathers intel any way she can --- for the Dregs, one of the most powerful gangs in in the bustling port city of Ketterdam. For most of the book, she’s one of six to attempt an impossible mission, and her ability to crawl, jump, maneuver and fight --- all without making a sound --- is essential to her team’s success. As someone with a tendency to walk into glass doors, I find that kind of grace, independence and courage completely alluring. Plus, she’s the only one who can get Kaz, the brooding, semi-emotionless, bad boy leader, to feel something…if I had to be stuck in an extended “will they or won’t they” situation, I’d be happy to have it with him.

Rebecca: Mouse from BOHEMIAN GOSPEL by Dana Chamblee Carpenter
My #wcw is Dana Chamblee Carpenter/the protagonist of her new debut, Mouse. Although Dana's short fiction has won a few awards, it's always difficult to make the transition from short fiction to novels, and she absolutely nailed it. Her novel, BOHEMIAN GOSPEL, combines historical fiction with fantasy and a dash of the supernatural for a spellbinding trip through 13th-century Bohemia. At the center of her novel is Mouse, a mysterious girl with incredible supernatural gifts. Mouse has been raised in a monastery, so she knows she must keep her gifts secret since they are not necessarily God-given. Still, even as she finds herself in ever more dangerous situations, she constantly wages interior battles with herself about her morals and ethics, and always manages to use her gifts for the best, even though she does not fully understand them. As a bonus, BOHEMIAN GOSPEL was also edited by a woman, the lovely Iris Blasi of Pegasus Books.  

Nicole: Paula Hawkins, author of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
Paula Hawkins, author of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, is my pick for this week's #wcw. This is Paula's debut novel and production for the film adaptation is already underway. Need I say more? JK. But seriously, the book is excellent, and it did not go unnoticed. It's already sold over 3 million copies and stayed number one on the NY Times bestseller list for 13 consecutive weeks.
Sometimes called the next GONE GIRL, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is a thrilling, page-turner that leaves you guessing 'til the end. The book-to-screen hit will star some of Hollywood's favorites, including but not limited to Emily Blunt, Justin Theroux and Allison Janney. Rumor has it the movie will hit theaters in October 2016, and so, we will patiently wait for both Paula's next big book and to see Theroux shirtless (fingers crossed!). Now, if only we could get Paula and Gillian Flynn to team up JLaw and SchumSchum style, then we might lose it completely.