As an action, adventure, and fast-paced fan, the fact the Shannon Hale’s The Princess Academy and Books of Bayern are some of my favorite series may seem a little odd.
There are many things I absolutely love about this book, but if there’s one thing that stands out above it all it’s her character development. Both her male and female characters are amazing, but this is focuses mainly on the female characters and relationships.
Now, none of Shannon Hale’s characters are the typical bad-a*. The girls are, well, human. And even more noticeable is that for the most part, none of her characters have that I-don’t-need-no-man mentality.
I’m not saying that any of the characters rely on their husbands/fiances/whatever-the-ancient-word-for-boyfriend-is. Forest Born is in fact almost exclusively female characters. What I’m saying is that these strong, tough, females don’t suddenly crumple when they fall in love, nor do they act like finding love will destroy their independence.
Female characters too often shatter the second they are in a relationship. On the other side of the spectrum, they never, ever, fall in love or even depend on a man. This portrays a bad message – that falling in love automatically makes a woman weak.
Falling in love doesn’t automatically make a woman weak – at least not in real life. I know personally my mom is a strong, independent woman even after being in a devoted relationship for many, many years. Why do authors treat it as if women crumple when they find a man?
And on the other hand, a strong, independent woman isn’t afraid to need help now and then. A truly strong person doesn’t get strength from being better than anybody, and sometimes it takes more strength to admit you need help than it takes to try to do it all on your own.
There are a lot of great examples of characters that are still strong-willed in a relationship, but for some reason it’s Shannon Hale’s stories that stick out in my mind.