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STEM Girls: Books with girls rocking science and math

Earlier this week I reviewed 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil, a book that has a main character, a girl, that is basically a physics wiz.  A lot of times, female main characters are into fashion or music and even sometimes sports.  But a lot of times, if our main characters are into academics they are also social pariahs.  Most of the time, academics aren’t even really mentioned in YA lit.  But this too is diversity: showing that our main characters, both male and female, can be involved in a variety of interests, even academic ones.  Boys don’t just have to be jocks and girls don’t just have to be fashionistas.  So here is a list of books that have main female characters that are involved in science and math.  Why just girl characters?  Because even though girls now make up the majority of college students, they still seem to lag behind in math and science, especially in terms of recognition and leadership in the field.  So here is some inspiration for us all, books that showcase girls being interested in science, math and those other subjects that fall under the umbrella of STEM eduction. 

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

” . . . do you have anytime what time it is?”

Since it sparked the list, it deserves a place on the list.  Two girls who are incredibly intelligent in physics use that knowledge to save 2 parallel worlds.  Lots of science talk, scary tension, and a dash of romance.

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

“People are always going to think something about you that isn’t real. It doesn’t matter what they think.” 

While on her way back from an academic competition, Reese is in an accident and wakes up in a secret government lab really quite different.  Can she find out what happened to her and what it means?  Inheritance, book 2, comes out later this year.

Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris

“Excuse me if I feel skeptical,’ I said. ‘Coach’s foot fell off. How exactly do you propose to cure that? Superglue?” 

The coach is feeding the football team steroids that turn them into zombies, can Kate find an antidote before the entire high school eats itself?

Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

” . . . and maybe I would do it better this time.” 

Straight A student Kate Malone is waiting to hear from MIT when her perfectly organized world starts to spiral out of control.  Then, something happens that truly blows it apart. 

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

“Every person has lots of ingredients to make them into what is always a one-of-a-kind creation.” 

Willow is a genius obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions.  When her adopted parents die suddenly in a car accident, she uses her knowledge of nature to help build the perfect garden and rejuvenate both a neighborhood and the spirits of those around her.  Truly moving and inspiring, this new release is a must read for all. One of my favorite books of 2013.  (August 29th from Dial)

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

“The day the experiment succeeds is the day the experiment ends. And I inevitably find that the sadness of ending outweighs the celebration of success.”  

Calpurnia Tate uses science to help her understand why yellow grasshoppers grow so much bigger than the green grasshoppers in her back yard.  Along the way, she bonds with her grandfather and learns just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.  Historical fiction, MG lit.


Find Me by Romily Bernard

“How can we all just keep swimming along when some of us are drowning?” 

Wick Tate is a superb computer hacker, skills she’ll need to use when Tessa Waye’s diary shows up at her house with a simple request: Find Me. (Coming in September from Harper Teen)

In the Shadow of the Blackbirds by Cat Winters

“…between the war and the flu, no one’s going to escape being haunted. We live in a world so horrifying, it frightens even the dead.”  

The Spanish flu is sweeping across the land.  It is 1918. Mary Shelley Black is forced to rethink everything she knows, or thinks she knows, about life and death.

The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzad

“The past doesn’t disappear, but it doesn’t have to define your future. That’s up to you.” 

When Caro’s older sister Hannah returns, she is having a hard time adjusting.  Hannah is the spiritual sister while Caro uses science to help her understand the world around her.  But secrets about Hannah’s past lead Caro to better understand the both of them.

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

“This is what we do. We make tea and read books and watch people die.”  

It starts with an itch.  Then the fever comes.  Soon after, you are dead. Kaelyn uses what she knows to try to keep herself alive when a virus sweeps over the island that she lives on.

Have some more titles that showcase intelligent girls that love science and math?  Please add them to the list in the comments.

Do Kick Butt Heroines Really Need to Kick Butt? A guest post by author Dawn Metcalf

Strong female protagonists: we love them, we admire them, and we want more of them! Give us more Buffys and Xenas, more Katsas and Katnisses, more Trises and Tallys, and more like our beloved Keladrys of Mindelan. We want our girls to be active, fighting for their lives and the lives of their friends, to be leaders, just and savvy, cool and smart, taking down governments and taking names! And while I am as much of a fan of these stories as the next rabid bookavore, I begin to worry—as a reader and a writer—whether “sharp, pointy stick” has become shorthand for “strong.”
            While there are many strengths in the world, the flashy ones like sword fighting, magic and kung fu action get all the press. Don’t get me wrong—most of my favorite stories (and favorite pastimes) feature that kind of strength, but when characters like Tally Youngblood and Beatrice “Tris” Prior begin to depend on their mental strengths alongside their physical ones, that’s when things get interesting! Subtly strong characters like Cammie Morgan and Frankie Landau-Banks use brains over brawn to subvert the Old Boy networks, and while Katniss Everdeen and Lena Duchannes both wield serious power, it is their love for others that makes them true heroines, showing us how strong they really are.
            Me, I love strong female protagonists! That’s why I wrote INDELIBLE.
Indelible, The Twixt book 1 by Dawn Metcalf
Coming in September 2013 from Harlequin Teen

Joy Malone is strong. An Olympic hopeful in Level 9 gymnastics, she left that world after her mother left the family and hasn’t been training in over a year. Friends, career, clear purpose and happy family: gone. Now Joy cares most about her best friend, Monica, her older brother, Stef, and her depressed father—votes are still out about how she feels about Mom—and is struggling to make this year better than the last while also trying to keep some things safely the same. So when Joy is accidentally pulled into a magical world of monsters and intrigue, immortal honor and revenge, she doesn’t let it take over her life, she meets it head-on, willing to risk anything to keep her family and friends safe. She may not have a pointy stick, but she has her wits, her resourcefulness, and her heart—along with a(n un)healthy dose of wariness and cynicism, deeply afraid of making mistakes.

And this is why Joy makes a lot of mistakes.
Yet making mistakes is where strength is truly tested.
Joy makes mistakes. Indelible Ink makes mistakes. Invisible Inq and Kurt and Graus Claude make mistakes. In fact, everyone in INDELIBLE makes some sort of mistake and Joy is the one I’m most proud of because she admits when she’s screwed up, she speaks up, and that’s one of the strongest things that anyone can do. There’s strength in that vulnerability when you admit that you were wrong, that you don’t know the right answer, and that you don’t know what to do. She’s scared sometimes and wrong sometimes and suspicious and angry and cruel sometimes—all those not-so-heroic things that real heroes feel—and she deals with it. And, sometimes, she even asks for help. That’s what makes Joy stronger when everyone else is throwing around magic and knucklebones and straight razor blades. She trusts herself enough to get over herself, learning to trust others because sometimes, being strong isn’t what’s best. Leaning on friends isn’t a weakness. Admitting fears isn’t a crime. And when she’s held answerable for her actions, she accepts it and does something about it. INDELIBLE is written for strong girls who might not know how strong they really are.
And that’s a strength I admire, no pointy sticks necessary.
INDELIBLE by Dawn Metcalf is due out by Harlequin Teen July 30, 2013.

Once Upon A Time…
…there was a headstrong fairy princess and a frog with an axe. But that’s another story.
My name is Dawn Metcalf and I write dark, quirky, and sometimes humorous speculative fiction. My debut novel, LUMINOUS, is a YA paranormal fantasy by Dutton Books and my next novel, INDELIBLE, is due out summer of 2013 by Harlequin Teen.

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