With the endless buzz around HBO’s Girls — not to mention the backlash that’s still in full swing — popular culture has been consumed, over the past few weeks, with the debate over what an authentic depiction of young women’s lives would look like. While we’re of the opinion that it’s impossible for one work of art to represent this entire group, we agree that we could all stand to spend more time considering the experiences of those in our cohort whose existences are very different from our own. To that end, we’ve rounded up ten of our favorite books about young women, from the early 20th century through the present. Meet immigrants from all over the world, punk lesbians, debutantes, refugees in war-torn Nigeria, inspirational figures, and hot messes, after the jump.
The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America (and Valencia) by Michelle Tea
Michelle Tea is one of our favorite writers of all time — and she’s written so much about her youth that we had to kick off this list by cheating and sticking in an extra book. Passionate Mistakes, a classic for feminists and counterculture weirdos in general, is an autobiographical novel that takes us from the author’s teenage days as a working-class goth from the Boston suburbs across the country to San Francisco, learning messy lessons about work, art, and sexuality in the process. Valencia picks up roughly where Tea’s debut left off, tracing its protagonist through the California queer underground, a gritty and glamorous place fueled by drugs and populated by sex workers and other artists.