March 24, 2017

Diverse historical fiction

A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls
edited by Jessica Spotswood

This collection of short stories is written by some well-known YA writers like Marissa Meyer, Y.S. Lee, Elizabeth Wein, Kekla Magoon, and Robin Talley. All the stories are set in the United States between 1710-1968 and each star a diverse cast of female main characters. These girls and teens stare down challenges ranging from winter survival, forced marriages, or male oppression. All of them find ways to take charge of their destinies, making this anthology an empowering read.

But like any anthology, the stories can be a bit uneven. I liked El Destinos, by Leslye Walton, which was a beautifully-written tale of the Fates from Greek mythology, but featuring a trio of Mexican sisters. The character of Klio in Andrea Cremer's fantastical High Stakes was also very interesting, with its clever take on the Medusa story. I also admired Fei-Yen's bravery in Marissa Meyers' western ghost story, the revenge-seeking Garrett sisters in Y. S. Lee's The Legendary Garrett Girls, and the young Annie Oakley in Pearls by Beth Revis. However, the short story format left little room for Cremer's story to fully develop, while Wein's The Color of the Sky, about real-life aviator Bessie Coleman, felt too long. Other stories were merely good if a little repetitive theme-wise, but each character's voice is wholly her own. The cross-dressing bank robber of Saundra Mitchell's Bonnie and Clyde is especially strong.

Adventurous and exciting, good or bad, these stories are memorable and an enjoyable teen read.

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