Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

This dystopian thriller is intense and disturbing. The themes of this novel remind me of Scott Westerfeld’s series, Uglies. In similar ways, both series expose our society’s obsession with perfection in appearance and conformity; however, Girls with Sharp Sticks focuses particularly on the strict rules put on women.

This book experiments with what women are told by the entire social food chain, namely that femininity is not natural or human: femininity is thick, long, black lashes; perky, large breasts; dark, crisp eyebrows; zero body and facial hair; straightly lined white teeth; and a particular body shape. Femininity, it says, is for others to look at.

Girl’s with Sharp Sticks suggests that the perfect woman is not human at all.

“All beauty industries rely on women being dissatisfied with themselves,” my friend said during a discussion about this book. I wonder, what would beauty industries sell if women were satisfied with their bodies? And what would happen if women allowed themselves to look human?