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YA and Slay: 3 Swoon Books Paired with Nonfiction by Badass Women

The YA space has been a place where fantastic and fearless women flourish more than any other genre, so we wanted to pair some of our favorite nonfiction written by badass women that inspire us with a Swoon book that has a protagonist we admire.

If you loved the non-stop action in Shoot Like a Girl by Mary Jennings Hagar, you’ll love:


A high-achieving teen who's determined to become a fighter jet pilot is matched up with an accused criminal at an elite military boarding school in this YA novel.

Paige knows exactly what she wants—to graduate from Wallingford Academy and become a pilot in the US Air Force. She’s inherited her father’s no-nonsense attitude and whip-smart intelligence, all of which have made her the perfect Wallingford cadet.

Logan has spent the last five years doing as little as possible. Once a star basketball player and one of the most popular boys at school, he now spends his days playing video games. When a friend borrows his car and commits a crime, Logan takes the fall and ends up at Wallingford as part of his court order.

When Paige is asked to mentor Logan, it’s the perfect opportunity to prove her leadership skills—but she doesn't account for the feelings that start to develop or the baggage from Logan's past which could threaten her future.

WHY THEY’RE THE PERFECT PAIR: Just like Mary Jennings Hagar when she worked with the ACLU to finally give women the right to officially serve in combat roles in the military, Paige is determined to achieve her goal of becoming a fighter jet pilot despite prejudice and push back because she knows she’s the woman for the job.

If you laughed yourself to tears reading Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres, you’ll devour:

Going Off Script cover

A writer's room intern must join forces with her crush to keep her favorite television show from ruining a lesbian character in this fun contemporary YA romance from the author of Queens of Geek.

Seventeen-year-old Bex is thrilled when she gets an internship on her favorite tv show, Silver Falls. Unfortunately, the internship isn't quite what she expected... instead of sitting in a crowded writer's room volleying ideas back and forth, Production Interns are stuck picking up the coffee.

Determined to prove her worth as a writer, Bex drafts her own script and shares it with the head writer—who promptly reworks it and passes it off as his own! Bex is understandably furious, yet... maybe this is just how the industry works? But when they rewrite her proudly lesbian character as straight, that's the last straw! It's time for Bex and her crush to fight back.

WHY THEY’RE THE PERFECT PAIR: In 1997, Ellen DeGeneres came out on national TV on her ABC show Ellen. it was incredibly brave and had a hand in paving the way for more LGBTQIA+ representation in media. Much like Ellen, Bex is hilarious and smart and determined to break down the barriers in an industry she loves.

If you finally felt seen in The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder and Genius by Gail Saltz, you won’t be able to get enough of:

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A college student with an auditory processing disorder enlists the help of a cute TA to pass her French class in this contemporary Own Voices YA debut.

Edie Kits has a learning disability. Well, not a learning disability exactly, but a disability that impacts her learning. It isn't visible, it isn't obvious, and it isn't something she likes to advertise.

And for three semesters of college, her hard work and perseverance have carried her through. Edie thinks she has her disability under control until she meets her match with a French 102 course and a professor unwilling to help her out.

Edie finds herself caught between getting the help she needs and convincing her professor that she isn't looking for an easy out. Luckily for Edie, she has an amazing best friend, Serena, who is willing to stitch together a plan to ensure Edie's success. And then there's Hudson, the badly dressed but undoubtedly adorable TA in her French class who finds himself pulled into her orbit...

WHY THEY’RE THE PERFECT PAIR: Gail Saltz is an incredible psychiatrist and psychoanalyst that makes easily digestible books on a variety of topics. In The Power of Different, she argues against the stigma society has on learning disorders and disabilities and sheds light on them by examining the link between brain differences and aptitude. Edie lives with these stigmas and perceptions every day, and works to conquer her fears and show everyone that she is more than her disorder.

Comment below with your own pairings!

Author spotlight

Liz O.

Brooklyn resident, sarcasm connoisseur, pop culture junkie, food obsessed. I am on the editorial board for Swoon, binge reading manuscripts …

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