Girls in Boy Books

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and the more I go over my first book (and the plans for my upcoming books) I’m quite proud of my female characters.

When I was writing The Iron-Jawed Boy, I was well-aware of the fact that because my book was centered around a 10 year old boy that the book would then be considered a “Boy Book”, but I reject that notion quite vehemently (spelling?). I chose to surround Ion with lots of strong female characters–be it older or younger–because I think it’s important that the book not just be a “boy with another male friend goes on all the adventures and what not” story. Girls are just as brave, just as strong, just as intelligent (most would argue more intelligent) and I wanted young readers who dove into the book to pick up on those themes.

Moreover, the female characters I do provide I make a point of not allowing to lean on the crutches of boys. It’s such an annoying thing (whether in reality or in a book or in a movie), watching some girl constantly rely on the boy for ideas or strength or something ridiculous like that. Not that it’s out of the question, but I thought it vital to attempt a protest of the Disney Princess Syndrome, commonly referred to as Ugh, Why She So Annoying? Disease. Yes, you have to include the queshollienition mark.

I guess my concern over boys learning early that girls are awesome comes from my upbringing. I was raised with two pretty cool older sisters, whom I looked up to for almost everything. To me, there was no one stronger than those two, and I still feel that way. Though don’t tell them that. Here’s one graduating. Also in the picture, you will notice  the beautiful gelled “bowl cut” I was given. You might also notice, I rocked the shit out of that haircut.

In conclusion, if one day my series was picked up by a large audience, I only hope I could empower a generation of girls, just as I plan on empowering a generation of boys. No, I did not plan on that sentence sounding as epic as it did 😉


  1. That’s awesome that you think in terms of how female characters would be perceived in a “boy” book. In writing MG I tend to bounce some of my ideas off my 12 year old daughter. She, in turn, bounced them off an author she happened to meet through her school. I was a little put out when the author told her that I should change my main character to a boy because boys didn’t want to read books where main characters were girls.


    1. I’ve actually heard a similar story. It’s crazy how the industry wants those lines to be drawn so deeply. It’s just unnecessary.

      I mean, just look at J.K. Rowling. I think the story went that they advised her to have a more unisex/male-sounding name because “boys won’t read a book written by a girl”. And as a boy, I never thought about that stuff, like, even once.


  2. Reblogged this on Rear in Gear and commented:
    New blog pal “The Iron-Jawed Author” brings up some good points. I’ve not (yet) read his book, so can’t vouch for the greatness of his female characters, but it’s true. Books intended for boy audiences often have token female characters at best. (Are Hermione and Annabeth Chase tokens or not? Discuss.) Please note an important point: “intended for boy audiences.” Sadly, as I’ve mentioned before, it is a fact that girls will read books with a boy as the protagonist far more than boys will read books with a girl as the protagonist. So, while books like Kit Grindstaff’s “The Flame in the Mist” are excellent fantasies with strong female protagonists, they don’t necessarily help our case here. I-JA has got me thinking, though. Which books do I know that have a good balance of strong male and female characters?


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