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Fight the Power: Get Inspired by These 5 Life-Affirming Moments in Politically Charged YA Lit

Regardless if you swing elephant or donkey, there's no denying that these are turbulent times. Many folks are feeling hopeless and scared, and utterly unsure of what the future holds. In periods like these, reading can play an even bigger role in our lives—empowering us to enact change the way some of literature's bravest characters have. That being said, I'd love to revisit some classic scenes from YA fiction that challenge authority, in hopes that you, too, will find solace in them—and maybe even a little inspiration. 

Drumroll, please…

1. Jonas Throws Out His Pills (The Giver)

In The Giver, citizens are instructed to take (probably FDA-unapproved) pills to snuff their sex hormones the second dreams escalate to PG-13. But once Jonas starts to realize that life as a robot is more depressing than the last three minutes of every This Is Us episode, he trashes the tablets and embraces his beautifully unpredictable “stirrings.” (Probably while listening to this O.G. hit from Pink!)

2. Katniss Pays Tribute to Rue (The Hunger Games)

There are endless kick-butt action sequences in the entire Hunger Games trilogy, but one stick-it-to-the-man scene is so subtle and reverent that it arguably outshines the others: Katniss, upon Rue’s sudden death in the arena, covers the 12-year-old’s body with flowers to give her dignity in her demise, pay tribute to her tragically short life, and essentially flip off President Snow—who treats the other tributes as nothing more than carcasses both before and after death.

3. The Weasleys Drop the Mic at Hogwarts (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hogwarts falls under the control of the evil Dolores Umbridge and her Inquisitorial Squad (read: underachieving minions from Slytherin). While a bunch of our wizarding faves are vocally against this, it’s Fred and George Weasley who take in-house protesting to the next level. From setting up a swamp to flooding an entire hallway at Hogwarts to flying off on broomsticks with the epic last words, “Give her hell from us, Peeves!”, the Weasley’s revolt against Umbridge’s abuse of power is the stuff of dreams.

4. Dorothy Soaks the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)

One of the most classic literary scenes of overthrowing an evil ruler involves a pigtailed preteen and a seriously angry leader whose resume includes commanding winged monkeys to help her enslave an army of Winkies. Luckily, said oppressor has a serious water allergy (though the exact diagnosis remains to be seen), and dies after what is essentially a rogue ice bucket challenge. Lame, but effective.

5. Winston Adds Big Brother to His Burn Book (1984)

In the dystopian Hall of Fame lies 1984, Orwell’s masterpiece that’s set in a world of omnipresent government surveillance—led by Party leader Big Brother, who’s as creepy as Facebook’s advertising algorithms. Winston’s job is to revise history to fit the party’s agenda (cough cough, sound familiar? cough), but once he becomes mesmerized by the actual past, he beings writing a journal that criticizes both the Party and Big Brother. Does this end badly for him? Yes. But is it a badass move that brave journalists continue to make today? Yes. (Shoutout to Teen Vogue and company for telling it like it is.)

Swooners, I’d love to hear your top picks. What character protests embolden you?


Author spotlight

Kelsey M.

Publicist for Swoon Reads. LA native. Not ashamed to know all things Kardashian.

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