About 3/4 of the way through Princeless by Jeremy Whitley (illustrated by M. Goodwin), I could not stop smiling. Then, when I finished the book, I closed it with a satisfying “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.”
(Or YAAAAAAAAAAAAS as the youngers say.)
There is so much to dig about this book. Let’s start here:
Look at that cover! Just look at it. First of all, it features a black girl, sitting right at center. Then, take a look at that face. The smirk and the sass are well featured–not to mention the confidence of the character (her name is Adrienne) in those eyes. LOOK AT THAT POSTURE.
Also, I knew I was going to love this story when I got to this, the second page:
First of all, that is exactly the kind of conversation I would have had with my daughter when she was that age (and still do). Second of all, Adrienne is getting her hair brushed and WRAPS HER HAIR BEFORE SHE GOES TO BED. This is huge. One of my pet peeves in TV/movies is that they always show black women just in the bed with their hair everywhere, and that is not true for most of the women I know. It drives me nuts. So! Representation! It’s nice.
One of my favorite scenes is the armor buying scene. Adrienne meets Bedelia (a female blacksmith) who shows her a line of women warrior armor (with nods to the chain mail bikini, Wonder Woman, and Xena). Adrienne is horrified and points out the absurdity of them, which makes Bedelia rethink the whole thing and leads to one of my favorite lines:
I’m going to design the first line of armor for “warrior women” not “women warriors.”
I love this exchange so much because just by Adrienne pointing out why the armor doesn’t work, Bedelia is empowered to do/try something different. Just a little shift in viewpoint is all it takes sometimes. Also, check out that shift in language there.
I also really like the next scene because it shows that the Wonder Woman costume is pretty badass in its own right. So the comic doesn’t bash the originals/its predecessors--it just points out the impracticality of the designs.
Adrienne also has a brother, Devin, and their relationship is ace, not to mention, of course, the awesome friendship she has with Bedelia. Bedelia, who wields a hammer and builds armor and has to deal with an alcoholic father. ❤
Some reviewers on Goodreads complain that the book isn’t subtle. Why should it be? Most people directly confront and rewrite the narratives they have been given about their lives every single day, out loud and on purpose, just like Adrienne does. Because she’s a fictional character, she shouldn’t say, “I know this is what’s expected of me, but I don’t like it, so I’m going to change it up and do my own thing”? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
I found a couple of interviews with the writer of the comic, and they’re worth a read. He talks about his choices in creating the character and storyline and why he made those choices.
So, basically, this book is great and you should read it. I already put the next one on hold at the library. (I also told my daughter to read it since she likes Rapunzel’s Revenge so much, and this book reminded me so much of that one.)
2 thoughts on “Recommendation Wednesday: Princeless”
Off to Comixology right now! This sounds great.