A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Girl Called Fearless is a gripping political thriller set in an alternative present that will get teens thinking about gender roles and discrimination; the importance of personal freedom and self-determination; and the safety of the nation's food supply. Some harsh realities of the male-dominated society include the restriction of women's access to information, education, and money; teen girls being instructed that they'll have to "do it" whenever their husbands want; and a teen girl setting herself on fire in protest on the steps of the capitol building. Main character Avie (nicknamed Fearless) is not really unafraid, but she finds the bravery she needs to escape her oppressors and help remove them from power. Strong language is infrequent and includes a few instances of "s--t," "ass," and "bitch." Violence also is infrequent and vague, except the killing of a goat is described in some detail. A major character is shot, but it's not gory. Avie and Yates kiss and make out a few times but decide to wait to have sex because Avie doesn't feel ready for it.
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What's the story?
A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS presents an alternative present-day Los Angeles in which almost all women of child-bearing age have died in the past few years when a hormone that causes ovarian cancer is widely given to beef cattle. Under the guise of protecting the few remaining women and young girls, a movement called the Paternalists has come to power and implemented strict controls that prevent women from seeing the news, managing their own money, and getting an education. When 16-year-old Avie's father arranges her marriage to an older man she's never met, Avie reluctantly decides her only chance at freedom is to escape to Canada. Along the way she learns that the Paternalist movement goes deeper into the government than anyone knew and that they have even more plans to control women's lives. As a witness who could bring down the movement, Avie's run to freedom becomes a run for her life when she realizes they'll do anything to silence her.
Is it any good?
Catherine Linka's debut novel is a gripping political thriller. Heroine Avie's narrative voice is mature, believable, and compelling for teens and adults alike. Teens will easily relate to Avie's struggle for independence and the ability to decide her own future, and they'll admire her bravery and root for her as she makes her way to freedom.
The plot is well constructed and compelling, building to an exciting climax and hopeful ending. But the real strength of the novel is the way it'll get teens thinking about how to protect an individual's right to make her own decisions and about the balance of power between men and women in society. It's one of those rare accomplishments that raises important issues without being preachy, gets kids thinking, and entertains and thrills along the way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how realistic the society portrayed in A Girl Called Fearless is. Which aspects seem as if they could really happen, and how? Do any seem far-fetched? Why?
Does the Scarpanol scare -- wherein a lot of people have died because of a hormone given to beef cattle -- make you think about what you eat? How can we keep our food supply safe?
- Author: Catherine Linka
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
- Publication date: May 6, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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