Votes for Women: Seven YA books featuring the suffrage movement.
Two days late, BUT.
I started AND finished A Mad, Wicked Folly this past Tuesday, which was Election Day here in the United States.
I'm finding that as I get older—sooooo old, sooooo fast—stories about women's suffrage just GET ME. Like, hit me hard, in the heart and in the gut. There was an episode of Mr. Selfridge that dealt with it, and it just made me WEEP.
I think it's something about the amount of awe and respect I have for these woman who stood up and said NO, YOU CAN'T JUST IGNORE US, DISCOUNT US, BRUSH US ASIDE, WE WILL BE HEARD, OUR VOICES MATTER... combined with the daily reminders that there is still a whole lot of work to be done.
Anyway, enough of my blathering. ON TO THE BOOKS.
A Mad, Wicked Folly, by Sharon Biggs Waller
After posing nude for the art class she's secretly attending, a girl gets kicked out of her French finishing school and booted back home to London. Once there, she finds that her parents plan to marry her off ASAP to avoid scandal. But Victoria Darling doesn't want to get married, she wants to go to art school.
And then she gets involved with the suffragettes.
Points for SO MANY THINGS: all of the period detail; the palpable love of art; the fact that while Vicky is frustrated and angry that she appears to be the only person who doesn't have a say in her own future, she's still a product of her time—her growth and understanding and independence is slow-going and hard-won (in other words, she's not a 2014 girl wearing 1909 clothing, she's a 1909 girl through-and-through); that while, YES, there IS A LOVE TRIANGLE with a predictable outcome (toolish rich guy who can offer comfort and stability versus dreamboat feminist police constable who is also Vicky's muse), that there is a second love triangle that pits Vicky's family, her way of life, certainty of shelter and clothes and money, and everything she's ever known AGAINST the freedom to make her own choices and decisions, and basically everything she knows she needs to be happy, in her heart and her soul and her head. Double points for an extensive historical note.
Minor dings for: predictability, historical details woven in less-than-organically. But, as Twitter can prove, it hooked me despite those issues:
The Cure for Dreaming, by Cat Winters:
I felt like I was the only person in the world who wasn't totally ga-ga for In the Shadow of Blackbirds, and thus, the only person in the world who wasn't totally dying to read this one. Then I found out it dealt with suffragettes, and now, yes, I AM TOTALLY DYING TO READ IT. Hypnotism and women's suffrage and (I assume) romance and, according to a friend, BICYCLE BLOOMERS in 1900 Oregon. COUNT ME IN.
Frozen, by Mary Casanova:
Sixteen-year-old Sadie hasn't said a word since she was five years old, when she somehow ended up in a snowbank during a snowstorm the night of her mother's death. Now, though, she's found some old photographs that have started her down the path towards finding out the truth of that night... and regaining her voice. This one isn't specifically ABOUT the suffrage movement, but the politics of the time and place (1920s Minnesota) are said to play in so heavily that I'm including it.
Blue Thread, by Ruth Tenzer Feldman:
A girl in 1912 Oregon wants to get a job, her father won't let her, so she joins the suffrage movement... and then SOMEHOW GETS CATAPULTED BACK IN TIME to interact with and possibly inspire (or be inspired by) the Daughters of Zelophehad, the first women to be land owners? Or something? Which sounds possibly bananas, but KAREN CUSHMAN BLURBED IT, SO.
The Firefly Letters, by Margarita Engle:
This verse novel is a 2011 Pura Belpre Honor Book about Swedish feminist (and suffragette) Fredrika Bremer's 1851 visit to Cuba, her (fictional) interactions with Cecilia, her translator, who is a slave, and with Elena, a wealthy girl from a slave-owning family, and how the relationships change their worldviews and their lives. All three girls get the opportunity to tell their own stories in their own voices, and HOLY COW HOW PRETTY IS THE COVER ART?
Hazel, by Julie Hearn:
After witnessing a suffragette commit a very public suicide, 13-year-old Hazel gets interested in the movement, stages her own protest... and promptly gets packed off to her family's Caribbean plantation, where she learns that her family has some seriously dark secrets. This one isn't ABOUT the suffrage movement, but as it's so integral to the plot, I'm hoping that much of Hazel's growth will deal with independence and agency.
Crossing Stones, by Helen Frost:
Another verse novel, this one about two families who live across a creek from each other, and about WWI and women's suffrage and friendship and love and disagreement and trench warfare and hunger strikes and, more than anything else, a changing world.
OTHERS I SHOULD ADD?