Title: A Girl Called Fearless
Author: Catherine Linka
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Speculative fiction, plus intensely feminist themes? Yes. Yes, please.
A brief summary from the author’s website:
Avie knows her life is over when her dad “Contracts” her in marriage to millionaire Jessop Hawkins. Hawkins has bought Avie to be his first lady as he runs for governor of California on the Paternalist ticket. But Avie’s lifelong friend, Yates, believes she has the strength to flee to freedom in Canada. As Yates draws her into the secret world of Exodus, their friendship turns to passion, and freedom means leaving Yates and hoping they can reunite over the border.
This romantic spec fiction/political thriller is set in a contemporary America upended by the deaths of millions of women from a hormone in meat. Teenage girls are a valuable and restricted commodity “protected”by guards, gates and Paternal Controls on phones, internet and media. After Avie leaves the mansions of LA and Malibu, she learns dangerous truths about who controls the US government. Pursued by federal agents as she heads for the border, Avie must find the courage Yates always believed she possessed.
In the world that Catharine Linka creates, young women are kept under strict control and sold to the highest bidder. At school, they learn only the art of homemaking – except in Avie’s class, where the girls learn a secret code in which to embroider, their only way of silently protesting and showing solidarity. Avie refuses to surrender her freedom willingly, and takes her life’s path into her own hands when she tries to flee the country to escape the hold that her father, her future husband, and society has on her.
I have nothing else to say but read this book. It’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. And the political undertones make it that much more meaningful. Interestingly, a note I found on Linka’s website states: “The book was inspired by historical and current events. The story was inspired by asking what if American girls were suddenly forced to live with the same restrictions on their choices that face women in many developing nations in the Middle East and Asia. Plus, I was fascinated by how having an unequal number of females and males (ie China) affects societies, as well as how dowries and bride prices affect human behavior. A Girl Called Fearless embodies exactly what speculative fiction is all about – and besides that, it’s not just a book, but an experience.
5 out of 5 stars.