Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Rory Power

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Rory Power

Rory Power grew up in New England, where she lives and works as a crime fiction editor and story consultant for TV adaptation. She received a Masters in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia, and her debut novel, Wilder Girls, will be published by Delacorte in 2019.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterTumblrGoodreads

For you to understand, I think I have to explain who I was in the summer of 2014. Which is to say, I think I have to explain how much I wanted, at that time, to die. I don’t mean to make you worry. I didn’t die, after all. But I graduated college and I moved to New York that summer and I think if you’d asked me where I was I wouldn’t have quite been able to remember.

It wasn’t new – that hollowness, that fog. I’d had it sliced up and labeled. This part OCD, this part anxiety, this part depression. And I had medicine on my nightstand, and appointments in my calendar. It didn’t matter. I was sleeping every second I wasn’t at work and crying every second I was. There was garbage in my fridge and mascara smudged in my hairline. Again, I don’t mean to make you worry. Just to make you understand. Because that’s where I was when I read Megan Abbott’s Dare Me. That’s where I was when I met Beth.

Nihilistic cheerleaders, is how it was pitched to me. I don’t think I’d read a book in months – I don’t know why that pitch broke the dam. But I left my apartment, and I walked crosstown to a little bookstore in a neighborhood I used to live in, and I bought it. The man behind the counter said it was a good choice. I said, “You, too,” and was embarrassed the whole way home.

Beth is not the main character of Dare Me. We never see inside her head. We never get her point of view. We only see her through Addie, her best friend, and if you believe Addie, Beth is the villain. The mean girl. The cheer captain so bitter over her lieutenant’s success that she starts to tear it apart. Beth is all of these things. I love her for all of these things.

But the most important thing about Beth – the thing that made me want to claw her out of the book with my bitten-down nails – is that she wants. Beth wants power, and Beth wants Addie, and I think most of all, Beth wants to know that the things that hurt her are real.

There’s a moment she keeps thinking about, a moment that picks at her, beats in her like a heart. But Addie doesn’t remember it. Addie won’t talk about it. And Beth spends the whole book looking for the right sore spot to press, the right angle to work – anything to prove it actually happened. Because it’s hurting her all the same, and she’s waiting for someone to notice.

Maybe you know what that’s like. I do. I spent the first twenty years of my life built around a hollow core, around a collection of moments nobody else wanted to acknowledge. And I decided it was fine and I decided that I never needed to talk about it and that hollow core grew, and grew, until it was most of me, and then Beth.


Beth, on the page, snarling and sweet. Beth, resentful and bruised. Beth, begging Addie to remember. Oh, I said. That’s me.

At the end of the book, Beth does something I won’t describe. It’s self-destructive. Or it’s selfless. Or it’s vengeful. You could argue that she gives up. You could argue that she breaks her own heart. But you couldn’t call her a heroine. You couldn’t call her a role model. Dare Me is a game and Beth’s not the winner.

She’s something better, or better for me that day as I read, crumpled in the hallway of my apartment because it was the only place left that was clean. Beth is a kind of mirror. She’s the reflection you catch in a store window; she’s the shadow you cast in a dark room. She’s you in pieces, in bits, in strange shapes you don’t recognize until you get in close.

And it’s not that she saved me. Nobody did. I only kept on, and on, and on, and I think the right thing to say next is: and on, until one day New York seemed so far behind me that maybe I’d never been there at all. But of course it isn’t like that. Some days there is still garbage in my fridge and still mascara smudged in my hairline. Some days I am still there.

No, Beth didn’t save me, but that day in the hallway of my apartment, she shook me awake. She got up off the floor and waited for me to stand on my own. Here I am, she said. Here you are, too.

Title Wilder Girls
Author Rory Power
Pages N/A
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Mystery
To Be Published 2019 by Delacorte Press
Find It On Goodreads

A feminist Lord of the Flies meets The Girl With All The Gifts. The story of three best friends living in quarantine in their island boarding school, and the lengths they go to uncover the truth of their confinement when one disappears.

One response to “Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Rory Power”

  1. Dahlia Adler says:

    Holy God, this post is incredible. I am officially counting down the minutes until WILDER GIRLS is up for preorder.
    Dahlia Adler recently posted…Announcing His Hideous Heart!My Profile

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