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The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls

Review

The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls

THE RADICAL ELEMENT is the second installment of a series based on radical women, following the previous anthology, A TYRANNY OF PETTICOATS. Both books are edited by Jessica Spotswood who also has her own short story included in both books. While the first book focused on historical fiction and strong female characters, this book focuses on strong females in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. If you found that you didn’t want to read A TYRANNY OF PETTICOATS because of its focus on historical fiction then you should definitely give THE RADICAL ELEMENT a chance because you don’t want to miss all 12 of these amazing new short stories.

"I loved the diversity in the cast of characters....Any girl reading can find one of the girls to identify with....honestly inspiring."

This anthology has three less stories than the first book and each one was different with aspects of magic in some of them. The first two short stories focused on strong heroines within a religious society. One society was a Jewish community and the other was Mormon. It was interesting to read about the restrictions that females faced within both religions and how real the stories were as they had real people despite the fictional events of the story. I always love stories where a girl has to pretend to be a boy to survive (Mulan being one of my favorite Disney movies) and there was a short story where exactly that happens.

I loved the diversity in the cast of characters. We had female heroines from Iran and Cuba to African American girls to a girl with a disability. Any girl reading can find one of the girls to identify with. For me, I found the story about the girl who wanted to write comedy the easiest to identify with because like me she prefers to write down her words and let others speak them. Similar to the problem I encountered with the first anthology, I found some of the stories more enjoyable than the others and the ones that I liked more made me crave a whole book. It was so disappointing to come across the last page of some of the stories I loved because there was so much more that I wanted to read.

The settings of each short story were all different as well. There were stories set in the South, all the way back up to East Coast Northern America to California and the West. The stories that took place around my hometown had me giddy because I actually knew the setting.

I admired how strong willed the heroines of each story were. They didn’t let society dictate what they were able to do. Sometimes the thing that stops most young girls is their family. Parents who are raised in a different time period have ideas of what their daughters should be like and it was great to see the heroines in the stories realize that though their parents loved them they didn’t always understand their wishes. I loved watching girls break out of their shells and pursue their dreams, it was honestly inspiring. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading about strong female characters or who loves reading short stories all bundled up in novel form.

Reviewed by Ilona K., Teen Board Member on April 9, 2018

The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls
Edited by Jessica Spotswood