OWN

7 Books With Badass Women Heroes

Need to power through the rest of your week? The heroines in these riveting stories win you over with their courage, strength and refusal to give up.
  • Enchanted Islands
    Frances Conway, the witty narrator of Allison Amend's <a href="http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/product.aspx?EAN=978038
    Credit Courtesy of Publisher
    Frances Conway, the witty narrator of Allison Amend's new novel, has lived an extraordinary life filled with secrets. After a meandering journey from her native Minnesota to San Francisco, she is recruited to be a spy in her mid-50s for the Office of Naval Intelligence, a predecessor of the CIA. It's a few months before the start of World War II and a suspicious number of Germans have settled in the remote islands of the Galápagos. Frances, posing as the wife of a veteran spy Ainslie Conway, a man with a closet full of personal and state secrets of his own, is sent to intercept any potential plots. This wild yet believable tale of intrigue is anchored by the friendship between Frances and the beautiful, imperious Rosalie, whose affection—and betrayal—serve as the catalyst for Frances' life of adventure. "Secrets shared by women are sacred," Frances realizes after decades spent trying to reconcile their problematic friendship. "They transcend the duties of country or marriage."
    — Domenica Ruta
  • The Alaskan Laundry
    Nineteen-year-old Tara Marconi can hold her own in a fight with a champion female boxer, a brown bear in the wild and her own
    Credit Courtesy of Publisher
    Nineteen-year-old Tara Marconi can hold her own in a fight with a champion female boxer, a brown bear in the wild and her own father. After the death of her mother, she leaves Philadelphia for Port Anna, Alaska, where she hopes to jump-start a new life. She falls in lust with a native Tlingit man decades her senior and scrapes by working in a hatchery and cannery—ultimately figuring out a way to buy a fishing boat. The long winters and brutal work help Tara come to the understanding that "where you come from braids itself, wildly, into the place you choose to build your life." The relationships portrayed in this debut novel draw you in with their honesty, and Tara is a courageous, vibrant narrator. Though a violent plot twist near the end feels a little gratuitous, Jones' big-hearted, generous prose invite you into the sometimes thrilling, often grueling way of life in this last American wilderness.
    — Domenica Ruta
  • I Will Send Rain
    It is 1934, during the Dust Bowl years, and things have become so desperate that the few remaining farmers of Mulehead, Oklah
    Credit Courtesy of Publisher
    It is 1934, during the Dust Bowl years, and things have become so desperate that the few remaining farmers of Mulehead, Oklahoma, have pooled their money to blow dynamite into the sky, hoping to shake out a little rain. This becomes yet another failure that the members of the Bell family struggle to endure in Rae Meadows' lyrical, devastating novel. While the patriarch of the Bell family, Samuel, wrestles with the voices in his head compelling him to build an ark, Annie, his wife, and two surviving children all take refuge in a neighboring house recently abandoned by a family fleeing the economic despair. At the center of this bleak, tautly constructed story is Annie, who begins having an affair with the Mulehead mayor. With echoes of Faulkner and Steinbeck, each character chases after a meager form of comfort and stability in this harsh, unforgiving landscape, where "every direction was the same. Flat, colorless, known." Annie's efforts to save herself and her family end in sadness, but her refusal to submit to hopelessness shines through the dust and the tears.
    — Domenica Ruta
  • I Almost Forgot About You
    Meet Georgia Young, a 50-something optometrist whose comfortable life is upended by news of her first boyfriend's death in a
    Credit Courtesy of Publisher
    Meet Georgia Young, a 50-something optometrist whose comfortable life is upended by news of her first boyfriend's death in a car accident. Georgia reacts to the jolt by chucking her career, putting her house on the market, and resolving to track down all her past sweethearts. Lucky for her, two of her college friends and her daughters are always there to catch her if she falls. McMilllan paints relationships in joyous primary colors; her novel brims with sexy repartee, caustic humor, and a fluent, assured prose that shines a bright light on her memorable characters. Her very best since Waiting to Exhale.
  • This Is Not My Beautiful Life
    The author was nine months' pregnant when the feds raided her parents' home and arrested her mother for fraud. A scandalously
    Credit Courtesy of Publisher
    The author was nine months' pregnant when the feds raided her parents' home and arrested her mother for fraud. A scandalously funny memoir about starting a new family while taking care of the felonious one you've already got.
  • Dating Tips for The Unemployed
    The prodigiously inventive Smyles melds <a href="http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/product.aspx?EAN=9780544703384" targe
    Credit Courtesy of Publisher
    The prodigiously inventive Smyles melds novel, autobiography, and all manner of asides as she flails at art, love, and friendship with the wry intelligence of someone just wise enough to realize they have no idea what they're doing. A flat-out joy to read.
  • Walking The Dog
    Following a lengthy prison term, Carleen lands a job as a dog walker in Manhattan, hoping to reconnect with her estranged dau
    Credit Courtesy of Publisher
    Following a lengthy prison term, Carleen lands a job as a dog walker in Manhattan, hoping to reconnect with her estranged daughter. Brilliant and layered, Swados's posthumous novel asks searching questions about the delicate nature of atonement.
HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
40 Books To Read Before Turning 40
CONVERSATIONS