1. Scout Finch, of course, from To Kill A Mockingbird. The character of Scout encompasses all the eccentricities of my life-time favorite adventurous girl becoming a wise young woman. She is curious, insightful, brave, caring and funny.
2. Lisbeth Salander from The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Her story is not a happy one, but this young woman drew strength from her severely dysfunctional upbringing and overcame all strikes she had against her since birth. She was also super smart! And to think, I almost didn’t try this one a second time.
3. Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Your heart can’t help but break for this little girl when she so wants her father to get better and for their family to survive. Anyone with a substance abusing parent can relate to Francie’s childhood.
4. Sister from Robert R. McCammon’s Swan Song. This character was truly off putting at first, but then you could begin to admire her tenacity and survival skill. Gotta love a good post-apocalypse ass-kicking woman!
5. Taylor in The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. Real name: Marietta Greer. Special purpose: to become an unexpected and somewhat reluctant mother after successfully avoiding teenage pregnancy. She did well considering.
6. Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I can, unfortunately, imagine a future like the one Oddred endured, where women are stripped of their rights and made to withstand life as a handmaid … that of chattel. However, I can’t imagine getting through it as well as she did.
7. Mattie Ross in True Grit by Charles Portis. Not movie Mattie, circa 1969 or 2010, but book Mattie. She was full of “piss and vinegar,” as my dad would’ve said. She knew what was rightfully hers and made sure she got it! No way in the world would I have the guts to go out in the middle of nowhere on a horse with nothing but an antique gun, a bedroll, some frickin’ pone cake, and an attitude.
8. Irena in Scott Simon’s Pretty Birds. She went through hell at such a young age and developed some interesting coping skills along the way. It’s not like I wanna be a sniper, but damn! Even though I’m not one for happy endings, this one was tragic. I know … I know … it’s fiction, but Simon’s journalistic perspective must have brought this character to life.
9. & 10. Mariam & Laila from Kahled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. Who can imagine a modern-day existence like that? Middle-eastern women, I suppose.
Shout out for Megan’s post, too, at Love, Literature, Art & Reason.