I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Tamora Pierce, so here’s a rundown: she’s a young adult fantasy novelist who specializes in stories about young women overcoming an oppressively masculine time period as knights. It’s like nerdy feminism. I remember buying the first book in the Alanna the Lioness series in Denver. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but it looked interesting, so I spent the entire day finishing it. Once I finished it, I shut the book, looked at it on my bed, picked it up again, and read it all over again.
Alanna was a girl who pretended to be a boy in order to learn to be a knight, because women weren’t allowed to be trained. The four book series follows Alanna as she struggles to keep up with the boys that are much bigger, then eventually comes out as a girl and earns the respect of her fellow knights.
Where do I even start? These books propelled me headlong into a world of knights, magic, and castles, and it would be a while before I resurfaced. Not only did I read every book Tamora Pierce had to offer, I also started to branch out to other medieval fantasy novels, eventually attempting to write my own.*
I extend on what this book has done for my writing here, in a letter all the way from day 19.
But there’s more. A book isn’t life changing because it inspires a career choice from an early age. No, Alanna’s lessons didn’t end there.
Previous to reading this book, I was still stuck in the box I had created in 3rd grade- the box that contained my wish to be a boy. Boys have more fun, I reasoned. Boys get to do more things. But the nerdy feminism started to get to me. I realized that not only was it ok to be a girl in a boy’s world, it was also a huge advantage. I started noticing how I could use being a girl to make gains socially and personally.** Suddenly, I didn’t strive for being “one of the guys”. I was just Bri… the girl who preferred boys but still had an identity.
There were more surface level changes that this book made as well. It got me interested in fencing, a sport I am in love with to this day. I haven’t actually fenced (legitimately) in almost two years, but I miss it like crazy. Maybe I’ll find some people in college to spar with. Fencing is an unbelievably fulfilling sport.
I don’t know what else there is to say, other than Alanna the Lioness taught me to accept who I am and work with what I was given. Changing to appease others or yourself never works.
*I post my favorite bits every once in a while for laughs, but I’m too lazy to link you. Sorry. Bad day.
** Once, during a practice debate, I made really intense eye contact with the boy I was debating and coyly rested my chin on the back of my hand. He stumbled over every other word. All’s fair in love and… Public Forum.