Retro Friday Reviews are hosted by Angie of Angieville.
I am pretty sure I needed Alanna in my life when I was in middle school. This would have perfectly complimented my Sailor Moon obsession. (I mean kick ass girls doing kick ass thing). I read a lot of fantasy as a kid. However, most of it was male centered. I never really picked up Robin McKinley, etc. Why oh why did I never come across this book while in the library? I am going to come clean right now. I was one of those little girls who thought being a damsel in distress was a good thing. Until I started watching and reading Sailor Moon, I didn’t think girls could kick ass and take names. In short, I loved Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce and wish someone could have pressed it into my hands a lot earlier.
Alanna and her twin brother Thom are being sent out of Trebond to continue their respective educations. Alanna to a convent, Thom to a castle to learn to be a knight. However, the twins have a different plan. Alanna is gifted in fighting and desperately wants to be a knight. Thom is gifted in magic and would rather continue his magic education. The twins switching outfits and gender roles at the station before they leave. We then focus on Alanna, now called Alan’s journey as she learns to be a knight while pretending to be a boy.
I love that we see how one can overcome a lot with hard work, even being physically smaller/ not as fit as other people. I mean, hard work won’t fix EVERYTHING, but I think that it accounts for a large percentage. It’s so cool to see a girl in the central role, navigating education traditionally restricted to males. Also, I love that this takes on bullying. I think at the time this was written was pre-Columbine, when people thought bullying was just a normal rite of passage. Yet, this book shows bullying is bull-shit, and just because you are smaller does not mean you have to take it. We see Alanna as being victimized, yet she never acts the victim. Instead, she trains. She gets better. She faces her problems head on.
Friends, I loved this. It makes me so proud to be a feminist (as I believe females AND males should be equal, not one over the other) because ladies is kick-ass too.
Disclosure: Purchased Copy