The best books with strong and complex female characters

Joy Jenkins Author Of A Secret Service
By Joy Jenkins

Who am I?

I have a passion for strong, complex female characters because I find that teen fiction lacks the combination of strong as well as complex. I have found authors sometimes focus on only showing how a character is strong but forgetting that only being strong isn’t realistic. A character needs flaws and depth to be relatable. As a writer of teen fiction, this is what I strive for in my own work and I hope with each story I accomplish it, whether the genre be teen fiction or fantasy. 

I wrote...

A Secret Service

By Joy Jenkins,

Book cover of A Secret Service

What is my book about?

In a Washington D.C. private high school, where everyone is related to someone in power, Carter Owens is no one. Her biting sarcasm and snarky jabs make her impossible to beat in a word fight, and when words don’t work, she uses her fists.

With a Secret Service agent for a father, Carter lives each day with the fear that one night he might not come home. Between that daily fear, and a mother who walked out on both of them, Carter is convinced it’s best to keep everyone at arm’s length. That resolve is challenged when two new students decide to befriend her. Along with their friendship they bring the mystery of their true identities, a mystery Carter is determined to solve.

The books I picked & why

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By Kristin Cashore,

Book cover of Fire

Why this book?

I have read this book countless times and will continue to read it countless times. The main character: Fire, is a perfect example of a strong female character that is both powerful as well as vulnerable. These are a mix of traits I find rare in fiction and love how it’s portrayed by Kristin’s beautiful writing style. 

Gone With the Wind

By Margaret Mitchell,

Book cover of Gone With the Wind

Why this book?

It’s been years since I’ve read this book and yet I could tell you a million details about the story, the main character as well as the side characters. I didn’t like the character of Scarlet for the majority of the book but I always understood her and respected her determination to survive no matter what. I can’t help but admire Margaret for writing such a strong, complex character.

Letters to the Lost

By Brigid Kemmerer,

Book cover of Letters to the Lost

Why this book?

I love this book for the simple reason that it shows how a character can be strong in small ways, such as picking up a camera. It’s a simple action but shows bravery coming from someone who is grieving. On top of that, it’s a retelling of You Got Mail, one of my favorite movies.

The Scorpio Races

By Maggie Stiefvater,

Book cover of The Scorpio Races

Why this book?

The beauty of Maggie’s writing never ceases to amaze me when I read this story. The setting, the characters, and the world she creates sweep a reader in and never let them go. And most of all: the character of Puck shows that standing up for something you want always takes courage but is worth it in the end. 

Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen,

Book cover of Pride and Prejudice

Why this book?

What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said by hundreds, thousands of readers before me? Elizabeth is a classic strong female character that continues to inspire writers even to this day and I am not an exception to that. I return to this book at least once a year and am always inspired by Elizabeth being both strong and flawed. No one is perfect and everyone needs to grow, that’s how Elizabeth is still relatable today. 

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