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When Women Were Dragons: Book summary and reviews of When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

When Women Were Dragons

A Novel

by Kelly Barnhill

When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill X
When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill
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About this book

Book Summary

A rollicking feminist tale set in 1950s America where thousands of women have spontaneously transformed into dragons, exploding notions of a woman's place in the world and expanding minds about accepting others for who they really are.

Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours, except for its most seminal event: the Mass Dragoning of 1955, when hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales, and talons; left a trail of fiery destruction in their path; and took to the skies. Was it their choice? What will become of those left behind? Why did Alex's beloved aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn't know. It's taboo to speak of.

Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of this astonishing event: a mother more protective than ever; an absentee father; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and watching her beloved cousin Bea become dangerously obsessed with the forbidden.

In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the tyranny of forced limitations. When Women Were Dragons exposes a world that wants to keep women small—their lives and their prospects—and examines what happens when they rise en masse and take up the space they deserve.

The first adult novel by the Newbery award-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] complex, heartfelt story about following your heart and opening your mind to new possibilities... This novel's magic goes far beyond the dragons." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Newbery winner Barnhill (The Girl Who Drank the Moon) makes her adult debut with a deeply felt exploration of feminism in an alternate fantastical history...This allegory packs a punch." - Publishers Weekly

"Barnhill's sharp and lyrical prose showcases the joys and agonies of female power in this coming-of-age/alternate history." - Library Journal

"Ferociously imagined, incandescent with feeling, this book is urgent and necessary and as exhilarating as a ride on dragonback." - Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians Trilogy

"Completely fierce, unmistakably feminist, and subversively funny, When Women Were Dragons brings the heat to misogyny with glorious imagination and talon-sharp prose. Check the skies tonight—you might just see your mother." - Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry

This information about When Women Were Dragons was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Kelly Barnhill Author Biography

Kelly Barnhill writes books. It is a strange job, but, to be fair, she is a strange woman, so perhaps it makes sense. She is a former teacher, former bartender, former waitress, former activist, former park ranger, former secretary, former janitor and former church-guitar-player. The sum of these experiences have prepared her for exactly nothing – save for the telling of stories, which she has been doing quite happily for some time now.

She received the Newbery Medal in 2017, as well as fellowships from the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the McKnight Foundation. She is the winner of the World Fantasy Award, the Parents Choice Gold Award, the Texas Library Association Bluebonnet, and a Charlotte Huck Honor. She also was a finalist for the Minnesota Book ...

... Full Biography
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