Book Review: A Girl Called Fearless
By: Catherine Linka
Published By: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Page Count: 368
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Dystopian, Romance
Avie Reveare lives in an alternate modern day United States where almost all of the women of child bearing age have died. An artificial hormone used in beef production caused widespread cancer in women with functioning ovaries. Only the very old and very young, and vegetarians, are spared this fate. In the handful of years since this tragedy, young girls have become a commodity, owned by their fathers until they are sold off to their potential husbands. Those girls from privileged families are well sought after and even better protected, with body guards following their every move, and their phones modified to allow only approved communication and information. After reaching puberty, girls are completely segregated from boys. Avie is only able to see her childhood friend Yates by driving past the café where he works, and waving through the window. Anything else would be improper. The powerful Paternalist movement seeks to limit the rights of women even further, and it’s gaining a dangerous level of support within the government.
When Avie finds herself contracted to marry a man she could never love she has the choice to live a life of misery, or run to Canada and freedom. Running will mean leaving everything and everyone she loves, but staying might just be a fate worse than death.
At first I found the premise of the novel quite unrealistic - in only a dozen or so years the rights of women and girls have been eroded to almost non-existence - but the more I thought about it, the more possible it seemed. There are laws being passed in America that have the potential for women to be prosecuted if they miscarry. Reproductive rights are being questioned or eroded in a number of Western countries, and in some parts of the world girls are denied all but the most basic of education and have no say in who they marry or how they live. It may not happen in 10 years, but it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that without strong women and compassionate men to argue against it, such measures could be taken.
Catherine Linka manages to keep the suspense level high throughout the book, and Avie is surrounded by a cast of well-developed characters who have their own motives for helping, or hindering, her bid for freedom. Jessop Hawkins, Avie’s fiancé, is a perfect villain. He made my skin crawl and the thought of Avie being married to him was absolutely horrifying. Yates is an idealist and revolutionary, and embodies those characteristics well.
This is an accomplished debut which raises a lot of interesting questions. I found myself thinking about it for quite some time after turning the last page.
Avie Reveare has the normal life of a privileged teen growing up in L.A., at least as normal as any girl’s life is these days. After a synthetic hormone in beef killed fifty million American women ten years ago, only young girls, old women, men, and boys are left to pick up the pieces. The death threat is past, but fathers still fear for their daughters’ safety, and the Paternalist Movement, begun to "protect" young women, is taking over the choices they make.Like all her friends, Avie still mourns the loss of her mother, but she’s also dreaming about college and love and what she’ll make of her life. When her dad "contracts" her to marry a rich, older man to raise money to save his struggling company, her life suddenly narrows to two choices: Be trapped in a marriage with a controlling politician, or run. Her lifelong friend, student revolutionary Yates, urges her to run to freedom across the border to Canada. As their friendship turns to passion, the decision to leave becomes harder and harder. Running away is incredibly dangerous, and it’s possible Avie will never see Yates again. But staying could mean death.From Catherine Linka comes this romantic, thought-provoking, and frighteningly real story, A Girl Called Fearless, about fighting for the most important things in life—freedom and love.