Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Contemporary YA

Good evening, everyone! Once again, I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday. This week’s prompt is “top ten favorite fictional heroines.”

I HAVE DECIDED TO CHALLENGE MYSELF, PEOPLES. I always feel like I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA. I definitely don’t read that much compared to some of my friends, and most of what I read is fantasy/science fiction, but honestly? I think I read more than I feel like I do, if that makes any sense. I’m picky when it comes to contemporary YA novels, and only a few make me fangirl, so it’s entirely possible that I feel as if I don’t read as many as I really do because I don’t get as excited about this genre as I do about other genres.

dramaramaBut oh boy, when I find a contemporary story that I love, I really love it.

Here are my top ten favorite heroines from contemporary YA! IT’S TIME TO DISCUSS AWESOME LADIES.

1. Sadye
(Dramarama by E. Lockhart)

THIS BOOK TAUGHT ME MOST OF WHAT I KNOW ABOUT MUSICALS. Until my lovely friend Mo came along, but that’s another story. And I still don’t know much about musicals. I suppose the one in Captain America: The First Avenger doesn’t count, does it? Sadye absolutely adores musicals – watching and performing them helps her to escape the boredom of her tiny Ohio town. This is a great story about friendship, musicals, ridiculous antics, and most importantly, Sadye’s larger-than-life personality.

2. Georgia
(The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison)

Oh, Georgia. I love reading about you. I don’t usually get excited about reading a series that’s about girls chasing after boys, because… that is so not my thing. But Georgia makes me laugh until my sides hurt. She’s awkward, and always laughing about something, and OH MY GOD HER ATTITUDE. It’s the greatest. THERE ARE TEN BOOKS IN THIS SERIES AND I READ THEM ALL IN LIKE A MONTH.

3. Jess
(The Jess Jordan series by Sue Limb)

Jess is ME. She’s clever, but doesn’t work as hard as she should in school. She’s creative, and can be gradually prodded towards channeling some of the aforementioned cleverness into creative pursuits. (Such as writing a school play that mocks all the teachers!) She’s HILARIOUS and awkward and unsure of herself. Also, she uses bags of soup to make her boobs look bigger. (It’s a long story. Go read these books, NOW.)

4. Frankie
(The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart)

Frankie is brilliant. One of the things that frustrated me about Lockhart’s latest novel, We
Were Liars
, was how the author kept saying the main character was brilliant… but we didn’t actually see that. (Show, don’t tell!) In this book, on the other hand, Frankie enacts one since you've been gonebrilliant scheme after another. She’ll probably be the world’s geekiest criminal mastermind someday.

5. Emily
(Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson)

I really, really related to Emily. She’s so shy! And she relies on friends to poke and prod her into trying new things. This is probably one of the summeriest novels I’ve yet read. Thanks for having an awesome summer and letting me read about it, Emily. You rock.

6. Natalie
(The School Story by Andrew Clements)

I read this when I was about seven and immediately began dreaming of becoming an author, like Natalie. She gets published while still in middle school and it’s awesome and basically I am glad I read it at that impressionable age because it made me long to do what I’m doing now. Although I still haven’t been published yet…

beauty queens7. Petra
(Beauty Queens by Libba Bray)

I wanted to choose aaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the lovely ladies from this book, but I finally managed to pick just one. I love Petra. She’s smart, and kind, and has a very no-nonsense kind of attitude. She was the first transgender character I ever read about – so hats off to you, Libba Bray. Also, I feel like I should mention that PART OF PETRA’S STORY IS TOLD IN THE FORM OF A CERTAIN FAIRY TALE AND I FREAKING LOVE THAT!

8. Ruby
(The Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart)

I know I’ve already said that Jess was me, but Ruby is also me. I AM THE GAY VERSION OF RUBY OLIVER. She crushes on so many boys, and more often than not just ends up embarrassing herself instead of impressing them. Oh, and she likes making lists about her crushes which are then accidentally spread around to everyone at her school. And she’s a nerd. And she has an odd sense of fashion. Ruby is me and I am Ruby.

9. Debbie
(Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins)

This novel doesn’t really have a plot, but I love it anyway. Basically, the plot follows Debbie – and the other main character, Hector – through the summer before their freshman year of high school, as they wander through life. It’s technically a sequel but I think it works well as like no othera standalone, and it won the Newbery Medal a few years ago. I really appreciated how the author showed that Debbie was confused/overwhelmed by growing up, but she was still hopeful and excited.

10. Devorah
(Like No Other by Una LaMarche)

I loved reading Devorah’s story because it’s just so different from my own: She had a super-strict upbringing as a Hasidic Jewish girl, and has barely any freedom at all at the beginning of the book. I love that she pushed for freedom, though, without giving up her faith. Go, Devorah!


Who are your favorite heroines from contemporary YA? And who are your favorite heroines from all of literature, or even from all of fiction ever?!


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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16 Responses to Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Contemporary YA

  1. I AM SO IMPRESSED WITH YOU DOING CONTEMPORARY YA. I did as well but we only had Emily in common 🙂 Oh but I LOVE the Georgia Nicholson series. Those books are just so much fun 🙂

  2. Cait says:

    I haven’t even read half of these. OMG. XD I think I’ve only read Since We’ve Been Gone (I totally love Emily) …. but I’m like you. 😉 I’d rather read fantasy/epic. And I read like 100+ contemporaries last year but barely any of them really stick with me, you know? It’s the action-y books that STICK to my skull.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Oh my god, really?! 😛 I think you’d love… well, all of them, actually. They’re all fairly-light-hearted reads… I guess I totally have a “type” when it comes to contemporary YA, don’t I?! I don’t really like angsty/sad stuff – with the exception of If I Stay and Zac And Mia.

  3. Gotta admit, I was wondering if Cath from ‘Fangirl’ was going to show up on here, but all these ladies sound great too! Which fairy tale did Petra’s story mirror? I read Beauty Queens such a while ago that I don’t remember 😮

    • nevillegirl says:

      ….ohhhhhh crap I *knew* there was someone I forgot! It was Cath! Oh noes. :/ I don’t know who I would’ve left off the list in order to include her, though.

      It was “The Princess and the Frog.” 🙂

  4. Miriam Joy says:

    You mean my endless backstage selfies and Facebook posts didn’t teach you anything about musicals? I’m clearly not doing it properly. I’ll have to try harder.
    (Admittedly I haven’t been in a musical in a while. BUT I AM GOING TO CHANGE THAT. Eventually. Probably next academic year.)

  5. Mo says:

    *shoves tap shoes and OBCRs out of sight* Me, interested in musical theatre? Hah! What would make you think that?

    Anyways, I need to read Since You’ve Been Gone. And I… have no idea who my favorites are. I LIKE EVERYONE.

  6. orphu44 says:

    Ooh, I only know Natalie and Petra from this list. I remember liking Petra, but I don’t remember part of her story being told in the form of a fairy tale, oddly — before I read the comments, I was about to ask which fairy tale. (Although looking at the comments, I’m amused by how much of it centres around your comment about not knowing much about musicals.)

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