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3 NOVELS WRITTEN FROM A STRONG FEMALE POINT OF VIEW
When I say “from a strong female point of view”, I am not necessarily talking about the point of view that the novel is narrated from. I am moreso talking about the point of view of the author. While two of these novels are written in the first person with a female narrator, Any Man is not. However, each and every one of these books was written from a strong female perspective, and that is why I’ve chosen them for this list.
1. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
I read this novel last year, and it immediately became one of my favorites. In this novel, the narrator who remains unnamed throughout decides to try and go into a year long hibernation as a way to sort of reset herself. She starts seeing a therapist who prescribes her a bunch of different pills, quits her job to begin living off of the inheritance money that was passed down to her after her parents passed away, and uses these pills to put her into a deep, nearly never-ending sleep. What made this novel a favorite of mine is the way that Moshfegh writes her female characters. She doesn’t portray women as these sweet, fragile, ladylike beings; she portrays them as real humans. She doesn’t try to hide the gross, shameful, unladylike things that real life women do, and she doesn’t try to create characters who are easily likeable or unlikeable, just characters that are real. I’ve read a lot of criticism of her work online, people calling it vulgar, calling it thin, saying that there was no point to it. No, this novel was not a thriller or what most people would classify as a “page turner”, but it explored topics that many other writers either don’t explore or romanticize when they do. Things like loneliness, depression, and drug use. Moshfegh also talks about what it’s like to be a woman in such a real and relatable way. For instance, the narrator of this novel is pretty in an obvious way, and she knows it. She knows because of how people treat her better than other even when she would show up for work with two day old mascara on and bags under her eyes. She knows because her best friend, Reva, constantly reminds her of how jealous she is of her for being able to look pretty without trying. I think the parallel between how obviously beautiful this character is on the outside and all of the ugly, gross things that she does throughout the novel is very interesting and really helps to humanize her.
2. Any Man by Amber Tamblyn
I read this novel nearly all in one sitting. It is unlike anything that I’ve ever read before in the best way. This novel tells the story of Maude, a mysterious female who preys on and sexually assaults men. Although the story isn’t as much hers as it is all of her victims’. Given the current state of this country and society, this novel could not have been released at a more fitting time. It is a very emotional read. Tamblyn is a poet, and you can absolutely see that in her prose. Each word is chosen carefully, each sentence crafted beautifully. Tamblyn not only gives a voice to victims of sexual assault with this novel; she uses males as the victims to really open people’s eyes and create a sense of empathy. This novel also really explored the toxic masculinity complex that society creates for a lot of men, another issue that is so prominent in today’s world. I could go on forever about how much I love this book from the message that it sends, to the beautiful and experimental way that it is written, but I’ll stop while I’m ahead.
3. Her Body and Other Parties by Maria Carmen Machado
This one is a collection of short stories rather than a traditionally styled novel. Machado’s style is almost science fiction, but not quite. Probably more along the lines of magical realism. Because of this unique style, it is sometimes slightly difficult to interpret what certain things mean, but I think that’s okay. In fact, I think that this novel is meant to leave you with some questions and meant to keep you thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading it. Another really great aspect of this novel is that not only is the author female; she is also bisexual, and so are the majority of the female characters in the book. The best part of that is she doesn’t make it this big thing where the character announces to the reader that they are bisexual the way that most novels with a gay/lesbian/bisexual character do. They just are who they are. I’m not usually one for sci fi, but I found the sort of sci fi aspect of this novel really cool and refreshing. Using mystical and magical concepts and ideas to portray the real life struggles and experiences of women was very unique and extremely effective.
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