by Catherine Linka
St. Martin's Griffin/Macmillan (May 6, 2014)
Avie Reveare has the normal life of a privileged teen growing up in L.A., at least as normal as any girl’s life is these days. After a synthetic hormone in beef killed fifty million American women ten years ago, only young girls, old women, men, and boys are left to pick up the pieces. The death threat is past, but fathers still fear for their daughters’ safety, and the Paternalist Movement, begun to "protect" young women, is taking over the choices they make.Like all her friends, Avie still mourns the loss of her mother, but she’s also dreaming about college and love and what she’ll make of her life. When her dad "contracts" her to marry a rich, older man to raise money to save his struggling company, her life suddenly narrows to two choices: Be trapped in a marriage with a controlling politician, or run. Her lifelong friend, student revolutionary Yates, urges her to run to freedom across the border to Canada. As their friendship turns to passion, the decision to leave becomes harder and harder. Running away is incredibly dangerous, and it’s possible Avie will never see Yates again. But staying could mean death. From Catherine Linka comes this romantic, thought-provoking, and frighteningly real story, A Girl Called Fearless, about fighting for the most important things in life—freedom and love.
Carolyn's thoughts on this book:
As a supporter of women's rights, I was intrigued by the alternative reality Catherine Linka created in her debut book, A Girl Called Fearless. The book begins after massive numbers of adult women had died forcing fathers to arrange marriage contracts for their daughters in exchange for large sums of money, thus replenishing the population and fulfilling the role of the devoted wife, which is valued by society. This situation faced by women and girls in the book was very unique (especially compared to other dystopian novels), partially because of its more modern setting but also because it was a certain section of the public (women), rather than the general public, that was being oppressed. Ms. Linka herself said that she wanted put American girls in the same situation as girls in developing countries - lacking political power, various rights, and the freedom to choose their own future - to build greater understanding of the experiences of women around the world. Once I began reading, I could tell that the plot was every bit as well executed as the broader thematic ideas.
When the main character, Avie, is pulled out of school and prepared for her engagement and marriage, it provides the catalyst to start her on the path of deciding to stay or to run. From there, Avie is forced to make countless choices and learns about an underground resistance movement that she could potentially take part in. The book is paced well, allowing enough time for the reader (and Avie herself) to process everything that Avie faces without dragging or skipping along too quickly (which can cause a lack of comprehension). The characters, though placed in an environment vastly different than the one we know today, were still relatable and realistic (never too dramatic, as some YA books tend to portray teenagers).
Overall, A Girl Called Fearless was a satisfying read that raised questions about the treatment girls face around the world. While I was aware of the terrible state of women's rights in developing countries before reading the book, I am now able to understand their plight on a deeper level and empathize with them. A Girl Called Fearless is a perfect book not only for high schoolers but also for high school English classes (or Political Science classes) for the broader thematic ideas and captivating plot.
Video: Catherine Linka's Great Marketing Idea:
About the author: CATHERINE LINKA was almost thrown out of boarding school for being "too verbal." Fortunately, she learned to channel her outspokenness and creative energy into writing. A passionate traveler who has visited Iceland, the Amazon, and the Arctic circle, Catherine has seen five types of whales in the wild, but no orcas. Yet. She doesn’t believe in fate, but she did fall in love with her husband on their first date when he laced up her boots, because she had a broken hand. A Girl Called Fearless is her debut novel.