20 YA Literature Heroines (in Response to Flavorwire’s Bonkers List)

The other night I came across a post on the delightful website Flavorwire titled “20 Classic YA Literature Heroines, Ranked.” The post immediately pounced on one of my pet peeves: the inability to understand the difference between “Juvenile” and “Young Adult” literature. It’s not always a clear line, to be sure, and I have been known to take some liberties with what I consider “Young Adult.” That said, my general rule is this: if the protagonist is a teenager and the book would be relatable/interesting to a teen audience (subjective, I know), then it’s YA. It’s by no means a perfect definition and while there are a many other factors to debate and consider, for the purposes of this list, I’m just going to keep it to my definition (mentioned above).

However you define YA, a quick glance at the Flavorwire list should be enough to give you some indication of the difference between Juvenile and Young Adult Literature (Eloise? Pippi Longstocking? I beg to differ). While these ladies could certainly be on a list of heroines of Children’s/Juvenile Literature, the majority of them don’t make sense on a YA list. Hence, I bring you my own list (based only on the YA books I have read. I am sure there are plenty more out there and I would love to hear any suggestions in the comments). One last note, it was hard enough to decide on 20 heroines, I can’t possibly imagine ranking them. So here they are, in alphabetical order:

  1. Alex from The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

  2. Alice from Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

  3. Astrid Jones from Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

  4. Cat from Shine by Lauren Myracle

  5. Door from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

  6. Eleanor from Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

  7. Elle from Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

  8. Frankie L. Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart

  9. Hazel Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

  10. Ismae from Grave Mercy by Robin La Fevers

  11. Joi from How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kristen Miller

  12. Judy from Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoski

  13. Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore

  14. Lee Fiora from Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (I know most people don’t consider it YA, but it fits my criteria, so I am going for it). 

  15. Maddie/Julie from Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

  16. Meg Powers from The President’s Daughter by Ellen Emerson White (I love love love this book but what did they do to the cover? I much prefer the original.

  17. Melinda from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

  18. Noa from  Don’t Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

  19. Sophie from Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

  20. Yessica from Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum

Honorable Mention (as a sort of anti-hero): Sheenie from Youth in Revolt (she’s a little evil and manipulative, but also pretty hilarious and hard not to love…at least through the eyes of Nick Twisp).

Honorable Mention: Leisel in The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (she’s only 10 when the book ends, so she doesn’t really fit the criteria I agreed to adhere to, but damn if she ain’t a hero).

So, those are my thoughts. Feel free to share if you think I have missed something, gotten something wrong (I’m expecting some hate for not including Katniss and Triss, so don’t be shy) or, even better, you agree with everything I say! 

~Katie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>