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Guest Post | 4 Literary Female Characters That Will Inspire You

You have to agree that 2017 has been the year of Diana a.k.a Wonder Woman. To be honest, I have not been keeping track of the DC /Marvel superhero movie releases over the last couple of years. However, her sword-wielding ways, her smarts and her heart for people definitely got my attention. The movie made me think about other fictional female characters who may not necessarily superpowers but are still outstanding and make us want to become better versions of ourselves. Here are some of my favourites:

Anetka Kaminska | Coal Miner's Bride (Dear America Series) (2000)

As an adult, I have fallen in love with the Dear America series (and its spin-offs) which sheds light on historical events through the everyday lives of early teens. The one book in this series that stuck with me after reading it a few years ago is Anetka's story. Thirteen-year-old Anetka is forced to leave Poland for Pennsylvania, US after being 'sold' as coal miner's bride in exchange for passage to the US. Through her diary entries, we get to know her struggles as an immigrant, a young wife and mother to three girls. I was floored by her resilience and how she was able to deal with her own insecurities in fitting into her new roles and still remain sane.

Anita Hemmings |The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe (2016)

Anita is passionate about going to college and will do everything to make it possible including passing herself as a white person. Being a "high yellow", a black person who so light-skinned that she can be passed off as being Caucasian, she and her brother take the chance to further their education at prestigious schools. However, this janitor’s daughter is in danger of being exposed when finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families in her senior year.
You will enjoy Anita’s journey in her last year of college and she manages to navigate sticky situations with her determination to graduate and have a “normal” life. Set before the turn of the 20th century,  this atmospheric book will make you privy to how people were dealing with the industrial revolution in the backdrop of major issues of the day like slavery and racism.

Ramatoulaye | So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (1979)

Ramatoulaye is a Senegalese schoolteacher who is grappling with the death of her husband and dealing with her co-wife. In this book, she pours her heart in this lengthy letter to her best friend Aissatou, who is now an ambassador in America as a cathartic means.
Through Ramatoulaye, we learn about the challenges that women faced in post-colonial period attempting to have it all. Readers will empathise with her situation and make you appreciate some of the everyday opportunities we have to make a difference but some may still be denied in some other parts of the world. This is one of the books that exemplifies the phrase, 'dynamite comes in small packages'. Originally published in 1979 in French, Ba is able to articulate the women's issues powerfully in this missive form and which is still relevant in 2017.

Rachel | Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh (2017)

Rachel is excited about returning to Kenya in the 1950s after spending most of her teenage years in Britain following the untimely death of her mother. While staying with her grandparents inhibited by their strict rules, she is eager to return to the familiarity of her childhood. When she finally sets foot in Kenya, she soon realised that things are not the same as the Mau Mau freedom fighters threaten the settlers' stay in the Kenyan colony.
Through Rachel's naive eyes, readers will be given glimpses into the relationship dynamics between the Kikuyu people and the settlers in the backdrop of impending independence (unknown to the characters). Her free spirit and courage are seen in the way that she treats the Kikuyu and is constantly concerned for their welfare. But at the same time, she does not shy away from questioning important issues.

This post was written by guest blogger Lillian:

Lillian prides herself in living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world: Kenya, plus owning more books than shoes. She has not met a brooch that she has not liked. She still harbours the dream of ordering vegetarian paella in impeccable Español. You can compare bookshelves on Goodreads or read about her bookish adventures at Kerry’s Blog.

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