Oh, today is a lovely day, isn’t it? That great day when you sit down and write out all the digits of pi that you know. Or something like that – I’ve honestly never done anything special for pi day (March 14th – hopefully you at least know the first three digits of pi and understand why it’s today; and, if you don’t, here’s your hint: 3.14) except because a small party in math class or something, although I don’t even know if we did that. But anyway, I was trying to decide what to schedule today and noticed the date and decided to do something slightly different.
We all know that YA seems to be lacking in strong, smart heroines. There are the protagonists who are supposed to be smart but that personality trait kind of flies out the window once the love interest shows up, and then there are protagonists who are just average (not that there’s anything wrong with that at all – after all, most people are pretty darn average, whether they want to admit it or not), but there just aren’t enough protagonists who are damn smart and know it without being cocky or pretentious or something. So, that’s what I’m going to celebrate today – the girls who can kick everyone else’s academic ass and aren’t too afraid to admit it, and thus empower the girls that read about them.
Gigi (Genevieve!), Bea, and Neerja from Smart Girls Get What They Want
I read this book pretty recently, so it immediately came to mind when trying to come up with some smart girls. Gigi and her friends are some of the top students at their school, and they spend much of their time working to achieve that, but they’re also regular girls at time. They like spending time together, dressing up, putting on makeup, talking about boys – really, they’re just girls who happen to be smart as well, and work hard for what they want. It was great seeing smart girls who care about their appearance as well – they aren’t obsessed with it, but they care, and so often that seems to be a sign of lack of intelligence, which isn’t the message we want to send to kids. So, it was great seeing these three great, smart friends.
Bindy from The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie
Bindy isn’t the nicest person – she can be quite pretentious and condescending without realizing it, which makes her even more pretentious and condescending. She knows she’s smart, but she doesn’t seem to realize that not everyone can measure up to her. She gets a bit of a rude awakening in this book, but she never really stops being who she is – she just becomes a better version of herself. Yes, she starts to break, and that includes her stellar grades, but by the end she’s a better person who still happens to be incredibly smart.
Reason (and her mum and grandmother) from Magic or Madness
Reason, along with most of the people in her family, has mathematically-inclined magic. She sees the world in terms of math and reason and the like, which can be unusual in YA books. She loves math, and it’s often soothing for her in times of stress, which is so interesting to me. I kind of see something of myself in her, actually – even though I’m a very creative person, I can be quite good at math, and when I was bored on the school bus when I was younger, I would often entertain myself by looking at all the passing house numbers and figuring out if they were products of 3 if added together. I know it’s nerdy, but it’s so great seeing someone else who does something (kind of) similar and loving that about herself. No matter what happens to Reason, her love of math never changes.
Kate from Bad Taste in Boys
I don’t remember much about this book, but I do remember that the main character was quite intelligent, and she got involved in a zombie outbreak (and solved it) due to her love and interest in science. Even though this book didn’t leave a big impression on me, it was nice to see a science-loving girl.
Astrid from Gone
Astrid certainly has her uppity moments and her broken moments, but she has the name “Astrid the Genius” for a reason. It’s also nice that the unofficial (or maybe he is the official one – these books don’t really have good people, just people with paler shades of grey) hero falls for the smart girl.
Cora from The Friday Society
I can’t remember for sure, but I’m pretty sure that Cora really liked science and tinkering and that type of thing. She didn’t like being pushed aside because of her gender, and she liked doing whatever she wanted to do, including inventing things.
Zoe from TTYL
Zoe is the official Smart Girl of the trio. She’s the one most concerned with schoolwork and stuck dealing with a controlling mother who really cares about getting into the best college. She knows how to have fun with her two best friends and she has her share of scandals, but she’s always the smart one who keeps an eye out for her friends and herself. The second book has a good look at planning for your first time, including going to the doctor and getting protection and such.
Annabeth from Percy Jackson
Annabeth, like the rest of the demigods, has to deal with various learning disabilities due to the way she’s hardwired for fighting and ancient Greek and such, but she still manages to be a good student. She loves architecture, which of course involves math, and she’s the one that most people turn to when they have a problem. And, while Percy might be the one considered to be the muscle of this duo, she can also hold herself in a fight.
Maya from She’s So Money
Maya has a lot of pressure from her parents and herself, and she definitely has her moments where she cracks underneath it all, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s an incredibly intelligent and snarky character. Sure, she uses her brains in a not-so-innocent scheme (cheating ring), but she certainly has her reasons, and there’s a reason she’s able to run it for so long.
Josie from Out of the Easy
I don’t remember for sure if she was a really intelligent girl, but if she was so obsessed with going to college – and had a decent chance of doing so – then she was probably a quite intelligent girl. She knew what she wanted and she went for it, despite how many new problems were thrown in her way.
And, to celebrate an incredibly smart, but still popular and well-adjusted (well, beside all the stress from being on a supernatural teen drama), girl on TV, here are some GIFs of the smart and snarky and awesome Lydia Martin from Teen Wolf!