Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Alison Cherry

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-four 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 Alison Cherry

Alison grew up in Evanston, IL. She is a professional photographer and spent many years working as a lighting designer for theater, opera, and dance. Now she lives in Brooklyn and writes young adult novels full time. She is represented by the lovely and amazing Holly Root of Waxman Leavell.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

I fell in love with lots of literary heroines as a kid, but I had trouble relating to most of them. I wasn’t fashionable and polished like Sara Crewe in A Little Princess, nor could I hold crowds rapt with my storytelling. I wasn’t nearly self-sufficient enough to travel in a covered wagon like Laura Ingalls Wilder or live alone like Pippi Longstocking. I obviously couldn’t fly or talk to owls like the title character in Barbara Berger’s Gwinna. Anne Shirley came closer — at least I had the red hair and the rampant imagination — but I wasn’t brave or bold or popular like her. For the most part, I was totally okay with the fact that the girls I read about weren’t like me; I read to be transported, not to find myself.

But then I discovered Matilda Wormwood.

Matilda was quiet, just like me. She loved to learn, thought the library was a magical place, and did way more work than was required of her in school. She had an inappropriately large vocabulary for a child. (Somewhere, there’s a home video of my mom asking two-year-old me, “Alison, what kind of trees lose their leaves in the winter?” I look up from playing with my plastic farm animals and gleefully shout, “DECIDUOUS!”) Matilda was steadfast and loyal but not particularly brave. She avoided conflict. She wasn’t popular, but she had a best friend who cared about her. She was a total teacher’s pet. And best of all, books were Matilda’s favorite thing in the world. She read to be transported outside of herself, too.

I could relate to all those things.

But there was one thing I couldn’t relate to: Matilda was telekinetic. No matter how many times I read the book — and I read it many times — I got goosebumps when Matilda first concentrated the power of her mind, shot that power out through her eyeballs, and tipped the glass of water containing the newt all over evil Miss Trunchbull’s front. The end of the book, when she lifted a piece of chalk with her thoughts and wrote a message that scared the evil headmistress out of town forever, was even more exciting. I remember sitting at a table in fourth grade and staring fixedly at a glass, sure that if I just concentrated hard enough, I could tip it over with the power of my thoughts. But it was no use. However disappointing it was, I couldn’t move the world with my mind.

I didn’t understand until much later what Roald Dahl was really trying to tell me. Tipping a glass, lifting a cigar, writing with a piece of chalk without using my hands — those things were beside the point. The point was that Matilda was powerful, even though she was a quiet, mild-mannered bookworm who mostly kept to herself. Her power didn’t come from being strong; it came from being smart. When she focused her mind, she was able to overcome enormous obstacles, even ones as big and scary as Miss Trunchbull. And although she lost her telekinesis at the end of the book, it was only because she didn’t need it anymore. Matilda would always be able to move the world with the power of her mind, because she was a smart, hardworking girl who strived for excellence, and that’s the kind of girl who can really make a difference.

I’m forever indebted to Matilda for showing me what intelligent, dedicated girls can do. And now that I write stories for a living, I get to move worlds with the powers of my mind every day, just like her.

Title For Real
Author Alison Cherry
Pages 304 Pages
Genre Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Travel
Publisher Delacorte Press
To Be Published December 9th, 2014
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

No parents. No limits. No clue what they’re in for.

Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister’s shadow. While Miranda’s life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality TV.

When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just before her college graduation, it’s Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They’ll outshine Miranda’s fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.

But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may or may not be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life…or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what’s for real?

4 responses to “Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Alison Cherry”

  1. Another really lovely post. 🙂 I think we all love Matilda, don’t we?
    Jess @ Curiouser and Curiouser recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday | Lights, Camera, ACTION!My Profile

  2. I love, love, LOVE Matilda! The book has the perfect amount of whimsy, and the musical is also really good, if you have a chance to watch it. Oh, and Alison? I really love your books. 😉

  3. Holly J says:

    Oh my goodness, I LOVE this post!! And I LOVE Matilda (though I’ve only seen the movie version). That message of each of us having our own power is wonderful, even when we feel weak. And I totally cheered her on when she defeated that evil Miss Trunchbull, and when she stood up for herself and for others. 🙂
    Holly J recently posted…Fantastical Mini ReviewsMy Profile

  4. Alexa S. says:

    Matilda has always been one of my favorite book heroines! I used to read that book over and over as a child, and I still love it to date. Great pick, Alison!
    Alexa S. recently posted…The Lexie Project: On BFFsMy Profile

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