When people meet me, they likely wouldn’t think I’m an angry person, more specifically an Angry Black Woman (this is an important distinction), because I can be your stereotypical Hufflepuff upon (most) first meetings. However, the reality that I’ve been angry most of my lifetime and like most people, I’ve been shamed about it. As my reading & healing journey has progressed, I’ve come to realize this with startling clarity that I’ve been not only shamed but also restrained. When I read the most gut-wrenching but freeing book dedication from The Everlasting Rose, sequel to The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton “For all the angry girls. There’s nothing wrong with you.” I broke down in tears…because we all need that confirmation that its okay to feel & process our anger and that it is absolutely valid.
Another thing I realized about anger/being angry is that part of processing is questioning, which we are also taught either not to do at all or question minimally (there are some exceptions, of course). I’m a person who always has a question in the back of my mind and the tip of my tongue. “Why” stays stuck to my tongue like it was pierced there. Receiving the questions to your answers can either 1) make you feel better or 2) piss you off more (is there really an in-between there?)… It can also be frustrating when answers aren’t given, which then can make you want to tear some ish down. This is what I love so much about these books, that these characters tend to ask a lot of questions, whether it is in their mind or out loud. They stay puzzling things out like they are in an epic escape room (which is what their worlds often feel like while reading).
Another thing I thought of that is a common thread with being angry (in characters or in real life) is grief. The levels can be varied but its there in some way, shape or form. I feel that grief gets looked at in the most simplistic way as something that just causes a person to be sad but there are so many things that grief can do. For me personally, I felt a literal snap in my Spirit when my grandpa passed and the intensity level of my anger increased significantly. Whether these characters lost a person, an opportunity or lacked something, that plays a part in their anger and how it propels them forward or sends them back.
Where is this post coming from? Well, as usual, I was reading and this time it was the E-ARC of Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (out September 21st, be sure to pre-order it) and when I tell you her main character Zetian was angry…I thought she would burn everything down (she light-weight did) and I LIVED! I even wrote a tweet about her letting her hate flow through her (which has gotten a lot of likes and some retweets). After finishing the book, I started thinking about my other favorite angry girls in books I’ve read…so here’s a short list of those books and the angry girls that spoke to my Spirit.
- Zetian from Iron Widow. I love that she was 1) always ready for revenge & wouldn’t ever let anyone get in her way and 2) that she questioned everything.
- Bree from Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. There isn’t much more that I can say that I didn’t say in my blog post about this book…I love how her anger fueled her, periodt.
- Belcalis from The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. I’ll admit that at first, I wasn’t feelin’ her but she grew on me. Her anger was justified in so many ways though misdirected at times. Though, thinking about it, why does her anger need to be justified in the first place? No one should have to have permission or need to justify why they feel what they feel, IMO.
- Evalene from Daughters Of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron. Eva had so many reasons to angry. She’s learning all these new things about herself but not what triggered her abilities and limitations. I can tell you that I was beyond happy when she let it rip when she did!
- Pinky from 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon. Of the 3 books in the Dimpleverse, Pinky’s character is the one I related most to because of how angry and misunderstood she is. She’s a firecracker and a fighter which propelled her to really get ish done. Pinky knew how valuable her voice was and used it any chance she got.
- Bri from On The Come Up by Angie Thomas. Bri, for me, is the type of Black Girl that is automatically pegged as angry but she mostly has a no nonsense sort of attitude (that could give way to anger). When she was angry, I understood why but she wasn’t allowed to fully express what she felt when she needed to. Bri is my favorite of all of Angie’s characters and I don’t think she will be dethroned.
- Happi from One Of The Good Ones by Maritza & Maika Moulite. Happi was going through so much that people took her grief & kind of warped it into something that it wasn’t. Was she angry? Yes, she was but she was dealing with being in the public eye and contending on with what people may have felt if it was her life unjustly taken rather than her social influencer sisters’…it’s a whole lot and I completely understood where she was coming from!
I know that there are so many other angry girls that I did not mention but I still saw and connected with. I honestly appreciate the heck out of a character that is angry and I am so glad that kids today (no matter their outward/inward expressions) get to see characters who express it. Whether the character is messy or not, doesn’t matter to me because emotions, especially anger, are complicated. I do feel that these books can help kids today figure themselves out a little bit more and exam if they would or wouldn’t handle their situations in the same way. These books carry so many gems and lessons that I wish I had as a teen but am happy to have now as an adult.
When I read or hear some reviews of books, it’s often times the angry girl who is getting bashed. I often wonder why 1) they are being held to an impossible standard as if they are a. not a teenager & b. a fictional character and 2) if they don’t ever feel anger at all. I wanna know what type of world these people live in & the type of privilege they have because… reasons. I remember one such critique (if it could even be called that) of Bri from OTCU in relation to Starr from The Hate U Give and immediate anger I felt (oh, please believe that I went all the way off) upon reading their comment. The way that angry girls are expected to be like their more passive counterparts and their feelings invalidated in the process is, for lack of better words, bullsh*t. Why should anyone have to dampen their emotions/thoughts to make someone else more comfortable?! Any and everyone could miss me with that noise! So next time you come across an angry girl, in a book or IRL, I hope you take a moment to really LOOK at her and attempt to understand where she is coming from because there is so much more underneath the surface (I would certainly know).
Well y’all, I’m going to end this here before I hop back onto my soapbox again! Do you have any favorite angry girl characters? Do they have any Angela Bassett in Waiting To Exhale walking away from a burning car moments (that was my favorite part of the movie, TBH)? Please do share them (sans spoilers, of course). If you tryin’ to find me out in these e-streets, you can find and follow me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms (also subscribe to this blog pleaseeeeeee). As usual, I’m sending you tons of bookish love & wishing you happy reading! Laters!