Growing up, strong female book characters were a bit thin on the ground. Can we count Tracy Beaker, Katniss Everdeen, Bella Swan (the icon herself) as feminist icons? Probably not. Yet, when I read the Harry Potter books in my early teens, I immediately decided to base my personality on one character in particular. To me, Hermione Granger was a character who was unapologetically brilliant, in a world where girls are taught to downplay their talents.
However, when reading the Harry Potter books as an adult (which I do, regularly), Hermione's character has so many more layers than I could pick up on as a child. Although her representation in the films is great, much of her personality, not to mention her selfless campaigning for elf-rights from book four onwards, is missed out. If nothing else, she married a ginger, which is an achievement in itself.
Whilst I can’t say the same for her TV series (that I’m yet to binge) counterpart, a female book character that is definitely worth looking up to is Addy Prentiss from One Of Us Is Lying. The character travels across the novel on a journey of self-discovery, finding herself again after a coercive relationship- and being a murder suspect at the same time.
Early in the novel, the high school student is dominated by her boyfriend and mother, living up to their ideals and demands. Her mother makes the teen feel even more worthless, and Jake practically controls her every move. After her secret is revealed (spoilers!), she becomes closer to her sister, who herself is trapped in a loveless marriage. She separates herself from her toxic friends, finds her love of bike riding and styles her hair in a nonconventional way - finding her identity again. The character suffers from great emotional upheaval, but instead of giving in, she uses the situation to find her identity and is even stronger for it.