What a joy it is to remember my favorite heroines, but how do I choose? This is so difficult, kind of like when my mother would limit the number of friends I could have to my birthday parties. And don’t try to tell me they can’t get their feelings hurt because they aren’t real!
1) Anne Shirley: This is the first heroine I thought of when I got the topic. Hands down, Anne is number one. She is whole and complicated because of all her different feelings. Just reading her dialogue gives you a clear picture of who this girl is and what she wants. It’s interesting for me to think about the fact that some of my childhood friends were Anne Shirleys AND so are some of my adult friends. But no names here… I am often drawn to people who say what they feel right when they feel it.
2) Regina: I Am Not Regina, by Sally M. Keehn, is based on the true story of a girl who was kidnapped during the French and Indian War. In Keehn’s hands, she comes to life and tells the story of her kidnapping, new life, and eventual rescue. She changed from a slightly whiny sibling to a caring sister, a fighter, and finally a survivor. I read it in one day and when I was done, I cried because there was no more. Regina had become completely real to me, and I wanted to be her friend.
3) Karana: In fourth grade, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell gave me a picture of another world. I had read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Borrowers, and then Island. Wow. Even with the stark contrast between O’Dell’s writing and Dahl’s, I was drawn to Karana and her situation. At the time I first read it, I think she supported my love of nature, animals, and doing the right thing by staying with her brother. As the story progressed I, too, wanted to build a house of bones and drift wood and decorate it with sea glass. I, too, would have created a dress of feathers and made friends with the wolf-dog that almost killed me.
4) Kay Scarpetta: Yeah, she’s not a child’s heroine. In fact, kids shouldn’t read the Patricia Cornwell books. Kay is a forensic pathologist and is very, very smart, and she has to do very, very gross stuff. She’s kind of damaged because she doesn’t have much of a social life except a guy cop she sometimes works with and her lover, who she definitely doesn’t get enough love from, but she loves to cook and drink fine wine and lives in a beautiful home. Quietly soothing herself with fine living and the contrast of her gruesome work make her fascinating. So, I think she needs a girl friend. Maybe she’ll invite me to dinner, and after, we can sit in front of the fire and talk about our men and drink wine.
5) Clare Fergusson: Clare (In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming) is an Episcopal minister who acts like a frustrated detective. She’s also fighting a desire for the police chief, Russ, who is fighting a desire for her. She loves to cook and drink a glass of wine. She’s got a cool sports car and is pretty outdoorsy. I like her and want to be invited for dinner there, too. See a pattern?