Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Alexandra Sirowy

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as thirty-nine authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Alexandra Sirowy

Alexandra Sirowy is the author of the The Creeping and the upcoming young adult thriller, The Telling, from Simon & Schuster BFYR. When Alexandra isn’t writing she enjoys traveling, eating, cooking, reading, music, and exploring the foothills and forests near the Northern California home she shares with her husband and their dog.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

As an undergraduate, I attended a women’s college. To some this may seem like an interesting or even befuddling choice. The reactions I get range from funny to curious to outright offensive.

Picking a women’s college wasn’t this big decision that I spent any more time lamenting over than you likely spent choosing whatever university you went to. I wanted a progressive liberal arts education. I wanted to be in an environment that would foster learning. I wanted to make friends. I wanted to be on a pretty campus with trees and old buildings. I wanted to study political science. Decision made.

I hadn’t grown up thinking about feminism, or sexism, or the white, male, heteronormative culture that most things were (and still are) steeped in, because my family and home-life were separate from all that (Spoiler: I was lucky and naïve and we really weren’t separate from culture). My parents were partners, equals. My extended family was a brood of opinionated, creative women. We lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the kind of progressive and affluent environment that is the exception not the rule.

And then, college… It took reading history texts written by women to see how void of diverse voices my public high school’s texts had been. It took reading about female revolutionary leaders for me to notice the hole in my education they should have filled years earlier. I’m not proud of these things. I should have noticed that my school texts were white-washed and male-centered. I should have noticed the missing voices sooner.

This is about the time I read Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. It wasn’t assigned reading, but a book I picked up to escape studying for midterms. A nice little beach read – not so much. The Poisonwood Bible belongs to its women. It was the first piece of fiction since I’d read Louisa May Alcott or Judy Blume that I hugged to my chest and thought yes, this book was written for me, a young woman finding herself.

It’s the story of Orleanna Price, the wife of a Baptist missionary, and her daughters. Orleanna narrates from years after she leaves Africa with her surviving daughters; the daughters narrate as the plot unfolds in the Congo. The shadow of Orleanna Price’s husband falls over the book. He is there, the reason the family is in Africa, as he tries to push faith and grace on a people who already have it. If this book has a villain, this man represents it – the missionary, the colonizer, the “owner” of his family, treating them as if they’re a plot of land.

It was Orleanna’s fight to find her own voice and agency that resonated in me. She challenged me to think about inward expressions of strength and bravery. She frustrated me. She broke my heart when she didn’t leave her husband soon enough. Towards the end of the book, Orleanna tells the reader regretfully, “For women like me, it seems, it’s not ours to take charge of beginnings and endings.” Reading this line at nineteen, I knew that I wanted to be a woman who took charge of all her beginnings and endings.

I’d never be the wife of a missionary; I’d never allow a partner to make my decisions for me. But like Orleanna Price, I would search for my agency and voice, and her story made me realize that choosing a women’s college, as unique or commonplace a decision it may seem, had been my first real step in the direction.

Title The Telling
Author Alexandra Sirowy
Pages 387 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary
To Be Published August 2nd, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Lana used to know what was real.

That was before, when her life was small and quiet. Her golden stepbrother, Ben, was alive. She could only dream about bonfiring with the populars. Their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell the truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.

Then came after.

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten:

Love, blood, and murder.

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Hi! I’m Jen! I’m a thirty-something introvert who loves nothing more than the cozy comfort of home and snuggling my two rescue cats, Pepper and Pancakes. I also enjoy running, jigsaw puzzles, baking and everything Disney. Few things bring me more joy than helping a reader find the right book for them!