7 Novels About Women Who Reject Expectations

From Electric Lit:

There’s a sentence in my novel The Girls Are All So Nice Here that has remained largely unchanged from first draft to final copy: “It would be years before I realized that girls weren’t supposed to own their ambition, just lease it from time to time when it didn’t offend anyone else.”

When I wrote this line, I knew I had unearthed a major source of my main character Ambrosia’s anger: not toward anyone in particular but toward a society that asks her to have a certain attitude about her goals and achievements. She feels the need to act modest, humble, and surprised when successes happen to her, even when this is much too passive: she has worked hard to make things happen. Amb has been raised, like many of us, with the old adage: good things happen to good people. But while this sentiment is well-meaning, it fails to encompass the unspoken double standard, which is that women are expected to be good at the expense of their own desires.

The events that unfold in The Girls Are All So Nice Here are rooted in Amb wanting more than what she perceives that the world is willing to give her. When her desires mutate past the cookie-cutter shape of societal expectation, her envy takes a deadly life of its own. This book, unsurprisingly given its title, is laser-focused on girls and the labels we inherit, the assumption that we will be palatable and grateful and above all, nice. Amb comes to resent nice so much that she goes in the altogether opposite direction, to horrific consequences. 

I have long been fascinated by the burden of expectations placed on women—particularly, how those constraints can be responsible for what happens when we attempt to cast them off— and I tend to gravitate toward stories that put this dynamic at the forefront. These books are ones wherein the woman at the helm wants something very different than what everyone else expects from her, and in that dichotomy, the dark underbelly of expectation is revealed. 

. . . .

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Ani FaNelli lives a perfect life on the surface—a glamorous job, handsome fiancé, and lavish wedding to plan. But she has built this life on top of a very dark past. As much as she has reinvented herself, cleaving her way to her dream life with ambition and willpower, the teenage girl she used to be still lurks under the glossy facade. She feels like she should be grateful for what she has, but the pull to her past is about to resurface. As the title implies, Ani is expected to feel lucky, but the truth is so much more complicated. 

Link to the rest at Electric Lit

PG is so relieved that there are no expectations placed on men.