Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Paula Stokes

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 Paula Stokes

Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. She’s the author of several YA novels, most recently Girl Against The Universe and Liars, Inc. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands She also loves interacting with readers.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

I’ve read a lot of books about strong girls — girl warriors, girl athletes, girl activists, etc. But for me, the strongest girl is the girl who isn’t afraid to be herself.

When I decided to write about Luna Lovegood for Her Story: Ladies in Literature, the first thing I did was go back to the Harry Potter books for a refresher. I was so surprised to find out Luna doesn’t appear until the fifth book. Doesn’t it feel like she was there all along?

“The girl gave off an aura of distinct dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of Butterbeer caps, or that she was reading a magazine upside down.”
– Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

From the moment Luna appears in the novels, she is unabashedly, unapologetically herself. There are so many reasons why she might want to change, or to hide her true persona: The other kids call her “Loony Lovegood”, she has no friends, people pick on her and steal her stuff, they make fun of her for the things she believes and the things her father writes about in The Quibbler. But despite all of that, Luna remains Luna. And even more importantly – and this is the part I’m still working on – she never becomes bitter or unhappy about the way she’s treated. And sure enough, as the books progress, the right people are drawn to her. Harry and the others learn to love her for who she is.

“Nothing is more unnerving to the truly conventional than the unashamed misfit!”
-J.K. Rowling

When I was younger — in my teens and twenties — I was bombarded with mixed messages about who I should be. My father wanted me to be excellent. My mother wanted me to be happy. Somewhere in a Seventeen magazine, Calvin Klein was telling me to “Just Be.”

But it was often the guys I dated who made me feel like I needed to change. “Why can’t you just be normal?” my first serious boyfriend asked. “Why do you have to care so much about everything?” And then there was my second serious boyfriend, who didn’t understand why I wanted to go back to school when I was unhappy at my job. “No one likes their job. It’s just a thing you do to get money so you can enjoy your off time. Why do you think you’re special?” And later, a friend of mine at the job that was making me miserable, when I told him I was fighting with my boyfriend. “Did you ever think you might have an easier time in a relationship if you were a little less…you?”

It was pretty devastating to find out so many of the people I had let close to me were loving me not for who I was, but in spite of who I was. Now I have only a couple of close friends, but they’re friends who have never tried to change me, friends who step in and remind me why I am wonderful during those moments when I worry that maybe I should become someone else.

There is still a nagging voice in the back of my head that whispers about how life would be less scary if I just went back to a day job, cut back on this whole silly writing thing, became more social, got married, acted more like a “normal human.” But then I think of Luna Lovegood, and I remember that the world needs oddities, that the people I’m meant to be with will love me for who I am, and that it’s better to have a few real friends and remain true to myself than to adhere to society’s expectations just so I can feel “popular” or “normal” or “safe.”

Title Girl Against The Universe
Author Paula Stokes
Pages 382 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Mental Health
Published May 17th, 2016 by HarperTeen
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash — and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.

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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!