Jami Attenberg's Favorite Women in Books

Posted by Goodreads on March 6, 2017
Jami Attenberg

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Everyone around Andrea Bern seems to have an entirely different idea of what it means to be an adult: Her best friend, Indigo, is getting married; her brother—who miraculously seems unscathed by their shared tumultuous childhood—and sister-in-law are having a long-hoped-for baby; and her friend Matthew continues to wholly devote himself to making paintings at the cost of being flat broke.

But when Andrea's niece is born with a heartbreaking ailment, the Bern family is forced to reexamine what really matters. Told in comic vignettes, All Grown Up is an examination of what it means to be a woman living in the 21st century.

Jami Attenberg is the New York Times bestselling author of five previous novels, including The Middlesteins and Saint Mazie. Here are her favorite books featuring women, who, like her latest protagonist, live life on their own terms.

Ifemelu in Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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"I have recommended Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel probably more than any other book in the last few years. Her protagonist, Ifemelu, a Nigerian immigrant in America, is funny, flawed, brilliant, hopeful, sympathetic, and extremely powerful even in the face of duress. She is, quite simply and honorably, a fully realized woman character. I could have spent another 500 pages in Ifemelu's gaze and would have loved a walk-on in the book myself, just so she would look at me for a moment, assess me, and tell me what my problem was and how to fix myself."


Lila in The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
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"Elena Ferrante has created a cranky, whip-smart, soulful, wholly unapologetic heroine in Lila, who is constantly pushing against the patriarchal boundaries of Italy in the mid-20th century. She has a sharp tongue and can cut people to the core, but there is never a moment I blame her; she's fighting against an unfair system that existed long before she was born."


Moira in The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
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"Even though considering Atwood's classic, feminist, speculative novel in today's tragic political times frankly freaks me the hell out, I can't help but hold the anti-handmaid, Moira, up for praise and examination. She spends the entire novel actively resisting that which was imposed upon her simply because of her gender and is ultimately 'condemned' to a life as a sex worker. But whenever she appears in the book, we are reminded there is another way to live, that one does not have to give up the fight."


Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
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"Zora Neale Hurston invented a character who has man troubles the entire book—I mean, she is taxed by these men—and yet she emerges from her trials even stronger, with her head held high. I was riveted by her life. This book was a lesson on how to be strong and alive."


Anne Frank in The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
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"At this moment in America, I think it's worth revisiting Anne's words, her youthful spirit, her vital energy, her belief in good even in the face of evil. 'How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world,' she wrote. Words to live by."


Want more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.



Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Coral (new)

Coral Ward What a great little list. I have read a few of these before and agree with the recommendations whole heartedly. Looking forward to reading the other two.


Sarahmasonjessica Cool


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