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Feminist AF: Feminist YA That Does Not Disappoint a guest post by Mary Ellis

feministFeminist book lists frequently revolve entirely around the strongest, toughest, non-traditional young women that YA has to offer. This is not one of those lists. Feminism is the belief and unyielding pursuit of equality for all. For this reason, this is a Feminist YA book list that is more inclusive, has a broader reach, and does not disappoint.

This list will help enhance your perception of feminism and broaden your understanding of the human experience. The gender spectrum is wonderfully varied and diverse and the representation of own voices finally making its way onto YA bookshelves is promising, but we still need to do better. You can find strong female characters here, ones who eat the hearts of their enemies and love themselves more than any one else, but there is so much more feminist YA can offer you. Here you will find books that focus on race, social justice, immigration, disability, LGBTQ lives, mental health, abuse, and rape survivors as well. As in real life, many intersect and fall into several of these categories.

Books like A Wrinkle in Time and Speak are often heralded as feminist YA masterpieces that will maintain a place in our hearts and on our shelves for a long time to come. The books included here are meant to reach further than the most obvious feminist YA books. If you couldn’t relate to little Meg Murry, then maybe Sunny, Radu, or Gabi are the characters that will finally make you feel seen. These books can take you to places profoundly different and into situations you could scarcely fathom before. These are the books that deserve a hold at your library, a spot in your TBR pile, and to be recommended to your friends. If you have struggled to find your own experiences reflected in the books you’re reading, you are not alone. Hopefully this book list leaves you feeling understood and introduces you to diverse human experiences. Feminism is for everyone and so are these books.

And I Darken by Kiersten White (series) 

Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh (series)

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (series) 

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (series)

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill 

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

We Free Men by Terry Pratchett (series)

Once & Future by Rose Capetta, Cori McCarthy

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh (series)

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft by Tess Sharpe

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein (series)

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (series)

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (series)

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna (series)

Let’s Talk About Love by Clarie Kann

The V-Word: True Stories about First-Time Sex by Amber J. Keyser

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

This Land is Our Land: A History of American Immigration by Linda Barrett Osborne

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

Tomboy by Liz Prince

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

What Girls are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold

You Don’t Know Me, but I Know You by Rebecca Barrow

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Dreadnought by April Daniels (series)

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

That Thing We Call A Heart by Sheba Karim

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson, Ellen Hagan

Done Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (series)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

This Impossible Light by Lily Myers

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Drag Teen by Jeffery Self

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Swing by Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All by Candace Fleming

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena 

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

American Panda by Gloria Chao

Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert

Ladycastle by Delilah S. Dawson

As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman

Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lita Judge

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Sadie by Courtney Summers

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Audacity by Melanie Crowder

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier (series)

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi

Crazy Horses Girlfriend by Erika T. Wurth

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (series)

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnson

Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX by Karen Blumenthal

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Run by Kody Keplinger

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (series)

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens by Marieke Nijkamp

Giant Days by John Allison (series)

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows (series)

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

What’s A Girl Gotta Do? By Holly Bourne

American Girls by Alison Umminger

The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen

Does My Head Look Big in This? By Randa Abdel-Fattah

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala



Mary Ellis is a Youth Specialist in Charlottesville, Virginia. She is a die-hard feminist and readers advisory is her jam. You can find her at @motherofreaders on Instagram.

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