Hannah is the bookworm, literature student, Star Wars fan behind the brilliant blog ‘A Cup of Wonderful‘. In her guest post for #FeministFebruary, she celebrates one of YA’s fabulous female authors.
My Favourite Female Author: Jenny Downham
When Jo asked me to write a post about either my favourite feminist book or my favourite female author, instantly two came to mind. The first and properly the most expectant one for me to choose would’ve been J.K Rowling, after all it was her books which taught me how to read and ignited my passion for the worlds within pages. But that would’ve been too easy and although I could easily go on to talk about the woman who created the magical world which we’ve all come to know and for most of us – grown up with. But another sprung to mind, an author who introduced me to the young adult genre, Jenny Downham.
I remember I was on the cusp of perhaps 11 or 12, most likely 12 through I have no way of knowing precisely. It was on one of the Saturdays were my Granddad would take me to the bookstore so we could both pick a new book for us to read that week. Granddad often navigate to either historical or crime fiction while I was content in the middle grade section. But on that weekend I decided to venture to the unknown, YA and ended up picking up a book called Before I Die By Jenny Downham. Clearly I’ve always been a slightly morbid individual but the book spoke to me.
I devoured it in a single night, cried a lot but I loved it. Afterwards I picked up her second novel You Against Me which I devoured equally as fast – although I didn’t completely comprehend what it was exactly about. Until I reread it many years later when I was older and could fully understand the topic which her novel was challenging. Afterwards I was then left for five years until she published her third novel, Unbecoming, which maybe my favourite novel to date. Jenny Downham’s novels confront the taboo subjects which YA is only starting to look at recently.
For me, Jenny Downham is my favourite female authors for a great number of reasons. Firstly, her novels confront difficult subjects which aren’t as openly discussed which I think is vital in YA to be engaged with. Her first book explored cancer and ending treatment, her second focused on rape and the topic of victim blaming. While her latest discussed even more topics which aren’t always seen in YA, the discussion of dementia and being a career, along with estrangement of family members and the reconciliation which I felt was a faithful telling as it wasn’t easy, it was presented as a struggle. Which is why I relate so much to her novels and writing because she doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and is able to write them in a relatable way.
Jenny Downham is my favourite author because her novels are unexpected, questionable, real and utterly fantastic. She inspires me in my own writing and that its okay to write about subjects which are considered taboo and I urge anyone who hasn’t read any of her novels to pick one up soon!
Thank you Jo for having me here on your blog to talk about my favourite female author, its been really fun to write about.