Last week, Emily emailed me, looking for recommendations for New Adult novels:
“I’m getting so very tired of reading NA novels that don’t pass the Bechdel test. I know that a story doesn’t necessarily have to pass the test to be a neat feminist read, but I’d still like to try something with a little more in-depth communication between the female characters.”
I wish I had a list of books to recommend. My own forays into the new adult genre have generally been incredibly disappointing. But it’s been several months since I checked in on things, and I’m really hopeful that, as the genre grows, more good stuff will emerge. So, does anyone have any feminist New Adult novels to recommend? Books with believable female characters who actually interact with one another?
For my part, a couple of books come to mind:
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This is marketed and sold as YA, but it’s about a freshman in college, which I think puts it in the NA bracket. It’s about fandom, but it’s also about a girl with social anxiety as she struggles to find her place in college, including dealing with her somewhat belligerent but ultimately roommate and once-best-friend, now-acting-distant twin sister. A great read.
Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess. I had mixed feelings about this book, because the protagonist was a bit ridiculous and parts of the plot were over the top and resolved far too easily. But it’s a new adult novel about a group of recent college grads, living together in Brooklyn and attempting to figure out life. It has a wide range of female characters, it’s a fun read, and when it nails life as an early twenty-something, it really nails it.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman. Another book that’s sold as YA but is about college. It’s fun and heartbreaking, and the fading high school friendship between two girls is one of the main themes.
Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson. This one is a rare Bechdel test despite being from the perspective of a male character. It’s about a guy who’s very dissatisfied with his life, gets a job at a craft store to find a girlfriend, and falls for the male manager instead. It’s funny and Gilmore Girls-y and fanfic-y and has a great cast of female characters, from the other employees to the protagonist’s best friend to his mom, the Jane Austen sequel writer. Recommended!
Let us know your New Adult recommends in the comments!