Fight Like A Girl: 3 Books That Pack A Deadly Punch

Olympian Diana Lopez (in blue) — not to be confused with the author Diana Lopez — competes in the 2012 Taekwondo Olympic Trials. i i

hide captionOlympian Diana Lopez (in blue) — not to be confused with the author Diana Lopez — competes in the 2012 Taekwondo Olympic Trials.

Marc Piscotty/Getty Images
Olympian Diana Lopez (in blue) — not to be confused with the author Diana Lopez — competes in the 2012 Taekwondo Olympic Trials.

Olympian Diana Lopez (in blue) — not to be confused with the author Diana Lopez — competes in the 2012 Taekwondo Olympic Trials.

Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

In seventh grade, I broke my finger pretending to be a Harlem Globetrotter with the neighborhood boys. Until then, I'd been their equal in sports, but suddenly their shoulders were battering rams, and I was the house of straw from the Three Little Pigs. I hated being a puny, weak-armed girl. But then I saw Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton going mano a mano with aliens and cyborgs, and I realized that I didn't have to be a damsel in distress. Those ladies can pummel any guy on the planet — or in outer space. Here are three books with girls who know how to fight.

The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X

by Alexander O. Smith and Keigo Higashino

Hardcover, 298 pages, St Martins Pr, $24.99, published February 1 2011 | purchase
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  • The Devotion of Suspect X
  • Alexander O. Smith and Keigo Higashino

In The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, the action begins with a death blow. When Yasuko's ex-husband threatens her daughter, she kills him in a rash act of self-preservation. Enter her neighbor, Ishigami, a math genius who is unfulfilled by his job as a high school teacher and also by life in general. He has a secret crush on Yasuko, and desperate to help her, he devises a plan to dupe the police. This book isn't so much a whodunit novel, but a howdunit, as the professor and Yasuko compete in an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse.

Mice

Mice

by Gordon Reece

Hardcover, 329 pages, Penguin Group USA, $24.95, published August 18 2011 | purchase
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  • Mice
  • Gordon Reece

Speaking of cat-and-mouse, even shy, harmless girls have a breaking point. In Mice by Gordon Reece, 15-year-old Shelley and her mother have both been bullied — one by the mean girls at school, the other by an ex-husband. Faced with a fight-or-flight decision, the two women run away to a new home in the country where a new bully finds them. This time though, Shelley fights back, and the pastoral setting of their Honeysuckle Cottage becomes tinged with blood. In the aftermath, she and her mother must deal with the consequences and decide whom they wish to be: frightened mice or ruthless survivors.

Bloody Jack

Bloody Jack

by L. A. Meyer

Paperback, 301 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $8.99, published June 1 2004 | purchase
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  • Bloody Jack
  • Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy
  • L. A. Meyer

Bloody Jack — or Bloody Mary? L.A. Meyer's novel takes place in 18th-century England where orphaned Mary Faber cons her way onto the Dolphin as a ship's boy. She has her first period, joins The Brotherhood of Ship's Boys on His Majesty's Ship the Dolphin and gets their tattoo. She kills pirates, all while disguised as a boy. Her life gets even more complicated when she falls in love, but Mary, or Bloody Jack as she is known on the ship, is delightfully resourceful and somehow manages to put the girl back in tomboy.

The women in these books don't have special weapons, supernatural powers or black belts. They are mostly scared and violent only when pushed to their limits. Hopefully, I'll never have to face these kinds of challenges, but if I do, I hope I fight like a girl. In the meantime, I think I'll conveniently forget to correct people when they confuse me with the other Diana Lopez, the one who will compete in taekwondo at the London Summer Olympics. Now there's a girl who knows how to pack a punch.

Diana Lopez is the author of Choke and Confetti Girl.

Three Books... is produced and edited by Ellen Silva and Rosie Friedman with production assistance from Gavin Bade.

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