“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
I feel ya Charlotte. I refuse to be trapped. And my will is not much different than a menopausal woman’s waistline: it seems to be expanding, not shrinking in the least. That’s a gain I’m good with. (I’m pretty sure I just heard an enthusiastic amen all the way from Thornfield Hall.) In honor of International Women’s Day, let us recognize strong women both past and present, and celebrate their greatness. As I read the final few pages of Wonder for a second time to my boys tonight, I raised my voice high when Mr. Tushman quoted Henry Ward Beecher: “Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right using of strength…He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.”
Here are a couple of recommendations for readers who want to relish in women whose strength carries up hearts by the attraction of her own.
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson
This is the book I’m currently reading. So far, sooo good. I’m barely into Jonasson’s clever pages, but I’m already enamored with Nombeko Mayeki. If Amazon’s description of this 14-year-old prodigy doesn’t scream greatness, I don’t know what would: “Poor and orphaned, she quickly learns that the world expects her to die young. But Nombeko has grander plans. Little does this cunning and fearless girl know that soon she will steal a fortune in diamonds, outwit a mad scientist kidnapper, travel across the world, fall in with a pair of diabolical assassins, and ultimately save a king--and possibly the world.” My kinda girl.
The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch
Right on Mr. Munsch, right on! Chances are your daughters have grown up with Disney Princesses in need of rescuing from Disney Princes. I LOVE this modern classic! It ditches the princess stereotype and underscores self-respect. Honestly, I want my girls to take cues from a plucky princess who recognizes she deserves the very best. And won’t settle for less. This empowering fairy tale has been endorsed by the National Organization for Women and should rest on a shelf in every home as far as I’m concerned. (Go for the 25th Anniversary Hardbound Edition—you won’t be sorry you did.) The New York Times called this one of “the best children’s books ever written.” I couldn’t agree more.