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Geek Girls Don't Cry: Real-Life Lessons From Fictional Female Characters

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What does it mean for a woman to be strong—especially in a world where our conception of a “hero” is still so heavily influenced by male characters like Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman? Geek Girls Don’t Cry explores the subject, offering advice tailor-made for fans of any age. Andrea Towers, who works in public relations at Marvel Entertainment and has written about super What does it mean for a woman to be strong—especially in a world where our conception of a “hero” is still so heavily influenced by male characters like Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman? Geek Girls Don’t Cry explores the subject, offering advice tailor-made for fans of any age. Andrea Towers, who works in public relations at Marvel Entertainment and has written about superheroines for outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, outlines some of the primary traits heroic women can call upon, like resilience, self-acceptance, and bravery, pulling in stories from real-life women as well as figures from the pop-culture pantheon. She also interviews the creators of our favorite fictional heroines, who discuss how they drew from their own experiences to develop these protagonists and how, conversely, their own creations continue to inspire them.


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What does it mean for a woman to be strong—especially in a world where our conception of a “hero” is still so heavily influenced by male characters like Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman? Geek Girls Don’t Cry explores the subject, offering advice tailor-made for fans of any age. Andrea Towers, who works in public relations at Marvel Entertainment and has written about super What does it mean for a woman to be strong—especially in a world where our conception of a “hero” is still so heavily influenced by male characters like Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman? Geek Girls Don’t Cry explores the subject, offering advice tailor-made for fans of any age. Andrea Towers, who works in public relations at Marvel Entertainment and has written about superheroines for outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, outlines some of the primary traits heroic women can call upon, like resilience, self-acceptance, and bravery, pulling in stories from real-life women as well as figures from the pop-culture pantheon. She also interviews the creators of our favorite fictional heroines, who discuss how they drew from their own experiences to develop these protagonists and how, conversely, their own creations continue to inspire them.

30 review for Geek Girls Don't Cry: Real-Life Lessons From Fictional Female Characters

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    ARC provided by Edelweiss and the Publisher. So I don't know on what planet I was on when I thought that this was going to be YA leaning self-help/personal growth book ... maybe it was the cover (because this cover would sell SO HARD to teenage girls - especially the fangirls and the cosplayers)? Maybe it was the use of the word "girls" in the title? Maybe it is because micro-biographies are having a moment in YA non-fiction and a book set up as a fan-girl index/guide to life would have CIRC'ed S ARC provided by Edelweiss and the Publisher. So I don't know on what planet I was on when I thought that this was going to be YA leaning self-help/personal growth book ... maybe it was the cover (because this cover would sell SO HARD to teenage girls - especially the fangirls and the cosplayers)? Maybe it was the use of the word "girls" in the title? Maybe it is because micro-biographies are having a moment in YA non-fiction and a book set up as a fan-girl index/guide to life would have CIRC'ed SO HARD? My expectations were dashed when I discovered that this was not YA at all. (view spoiler)[ Content-wise, this is really aimed at adult female readers (I'd put my use of "adult" here aged at College+ with interest leaning towards the older/oldest teen readers) who are clearly familiar with both the characters mentioned and their cannon. Towers does a pretty great job of explaining why the character was selected for inclusion in the book but general character/cannon knowledge is still kind of needed to understand the gravity of all of it. I also think that the title may be a little misleading. This book has a heavy mental illness/psychology lean which makes it more of an "acknowledgement of the importance of self-care" book than anything else. Each character is diagnosed with something and then the meaning of that diagnosis to their character arc/storylines are discussed followed by discussions about how each character deals with their mental illness within cannon and/or therapy. From a library/circulation perspective, I think Geek Girls Don't Cry: Lessons about Mental Illness and Self Care from Fictional Female Characters, may have overall served this title better. While this was a short read that was overall interesting and well researched, I am afraid that it won't find a readership at the library because it appears to be one type of title masquerading as another. The older reader might pass it by because it appears to be "young" and the younger reader might pick it up due to interest and find that the content may be aged above them. I obviously really wanted this to be a YA-NF #missedopportunity (hide spoiler)]

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Kronk

    I was so disappointed in this book. It has great potential and what is there is really interesting but there just isn't enough there! Every character is introduced in the same format: 1. Character and quick summary of the story. 2. Explaination of trauma or mental illness experienced. 3. How the character overcame her struggles. 4. What we can learn from it. And all of this is covered in about 3-4 pages for each complicated character. I want more.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Puc

    I received an advanced copy of Geek Girls Don't Cry from Sterling Publishers in exchange for an honest review on The Beat. You can read my full review by clicking here, or check out an excerpt below! *** Quick! Name three fictional characters with whom you identify. Now consider: what do they have in common? In Andrea Towers‘ debut book, Geek Girls Don’t Cry, she explores connecting threads between some of the most iconic female characters in fiction. From Diana of Themyscira to General Leia Organ I received an advanced copy of Geek Girls Don't Cry from Sterling Publishers in exchange for an honest review on The Beat. You can read my full review by clicking here, or check out an excerpt below! *** Quick! Name three fictional characters with whom you identify. Now consider: what do they have in common? In Andrea Towers‘ debut book, Geek Girls Don’t Cry, she explores connecting threads between some of the most iconic female characters in fiction. From Diana of Themyscira to General Leia Organa to Barbara Gordon to Hermione Granger to Ellie from The Last of Us, Towers examines the various traumas that force these women to build their emotional, mental and physical strength to push forward in the face of overwhelming trauma. She also talks to real women about their own relationships to fictional characters and interviews mental health experts about the potential impacts of these characters’ experiences, as well as how those ripples manifest in their stories. Geek Girls Don’t Cry is as much a history as it is a confessional, not just for Towers but for the real-life women she interviews, including Kelly Sue DeConnick and Catrina Dennis. The book is divided into sections, exploring topics like: trauma, grief, adversity, depression and isolation. Towers pulls examples from all over pop culture, including comic books, television, video games and even webseries like Critical Role. Throughout the book, Towers attempts to examine intersections of oppression, noting how marginalized people have a different relationship to mental health than those who come from privilege. ... In Geek Girls Don’t Cry, Towers centers women and their stories. She explores the importance of seeing ourselves represented in fiction. She even explores these characters’ coping mechanisms and encourages readers to find healthy routines that work for them, whether they have the benefit of professional, therapeutic help or not. Geek Girls Don’t Cry isn’t a self-help book, but it will definitely help someone. It may even help you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Read this because it looked interesting when my daughter checked it out, but it's basically a series of term-paper-like essays on various female characters and their challenges and resulting mental health issues. Spoiler alert: everyone has PTSD and would benefit from physical exercise, a supportive chosen family, and therapy (though meds are only mentioned once, and somewhat dismissively). Some may identify with specific characters, but if you're already a fan, there is nothing remotely insight Read this because it looked interesting when my daughter checked it out, but it's basically a series of term-paper-like essays on various female characters and their challenges and resulting mental health issues. Spoiler alert: everyone has PTSD and would benefit from physical exercise, a supportive chosen family, and therapy (though meds are only mentioned once, and somewhat dismissively). Some may identify with specific characters, but if you're already a fan, there is nothing remotely insightful or even interesting here. Disappointing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tina Brandt

    Loved the deep dive into these characters' not only physical strength, but emotional strengths as well. Would love to see a second book with other characters, expanding on more diverse backgrounds and other pop culture areas, like Anime (love me some Sailor Moon). Highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emily Whitmore

    What is not to love about an author praising and discusses fictional characters and how they impact her and other consumers of media in a positive way?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrienne

    This is definitely a YA nonfiction book that features a lot of psychological lessons seen through the challenges faced by female characters in pop culture. The takeaways are very light, even though Psychology Today is mentioned a lot and medical terms are peppered throughout. I initially wanted to rate this 3 stars, but I am not the intended audience, so looking at it from a young adult to a college student perspective, I can see how this book could be a worthwhile read for those demographics. I This is definitely a YA nonfiction book that features a lot of psychological lessons seen through the challenges faced by female characters in pop culture. The takeaways are very light, even though Psychology Today is mentioned a lot and medical terms are peppered throughout. I initially wanted to rate this 3 stars, but I am not the intended audience, so looking at it from a young adult to a college student perspective, I can see how this book could be a worthwhile read for those demographics. I feel like the book could have benefited with the addition of illustrations and some cool quotes from the female characters (like affirmations or mottos).

  8. 4 out of 5

    ems

    but i LOVE the cover

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin Scott

    Well informed presentation of different aspects of psychology and how they may be reflected in women characters we’ve seen in media. All of the sections read as short biographies and though they are well thought out (and clearly Towers read a ton of psychology pieces to be informed of what she refers to) the biographies are quick passes at the story. More seemingly meant to say “look, here is someone you may identify with.” The references to comics do not always include an issue number (which wo Well informed presentation of different aspects of psychology and how they may be reflected in women characters we’ve seen in media. All of the sections read as short biographies and though they are well thought out (and clearly Towers read a ton of psychology pieces to be informed of what she refers to) the biographies are quick passes at the story. More seemingly meant to say “look, here is someone you may identify with.” The references to comics do not always include an issue number (which would be helpful to do more reading) and there is at least one character in the book who’s media isn’t mentioned by name. The concept is encouraging tho I believe this fell short on going into further details. Why these particular characters are important to women especially. I enjoyed reading through but was left wanting at least one to two more pages on each character, but delving deeper into there story and why they were significant. How a fan might connect to the story and why these particular women are so important for other women to read about (instead of branding them as people important to read about for women AND men)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicole M

    As a comic book nerd and survivor of much trauma, I could not pass this book up, and devoured it super swiftly. I love how it addresses the many routes to improved mental health vs. promoting a one size fits all solution, while also examining characters from all realms of fiction. I highly recommend it. Thanks Andrea!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    An overview of how Buffy Summers, Wonder Woman, Xena, and Hermione Granger can help you face personal challenges in your life. I would have liked it if the author had dug a little deeper (most chapters are about 3-5 pages) and focused less on trying to include the maximum number of female characters from video games, comics, movies, TV shows and books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anna Goldberg

    An easy read — good to dip in and out of if you want to use the story of a geek girl to motivate yourself. However, the book contains some factual errors the editors should have caught—names, time periods, things like that being listed incorrectly.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Just ended up skimming this. Too dry for me (and then I found an error that killed some of the geek cred for me).

  14. 5 out of 5

    michele

    A fun book using fictional characters to teach mental health awareness. I learned a lot from it and would probably enjoy it even more if I knew more pop culture characters. But I loved reading about the ones I did know, and learning about the ones I didn't. Some quotes that I liked from the book are below. "As much as we want to be responsible for changing the world by smashing the patriarchy with our fists, smashing the patriarchy with our personality can make a greater difference." P.71 Lara Crof A fun book using fictional characters to teach mental health awareness. I learned a lot from it and would probably enjoy it even more if I knew more pop culture characters. But I loved reading about the ones I did know, and learning about the ones I didn't. Some quotes that I liked from the book are below. "As much as we want to be responsible for changing the world by smashing the patriarchy with our fists, smashing the patriarchy with our personality can make a greater difference." P.71 Lara Croft workout: "Focusing on your present life instead of the life you miss can help you become more optimistic and keep you positive about the future." "According to existential tenets, people are often afraid of freedom (to choose) because with freedom to choose comes the possibility of choosing poorly. With freedom, in other words, comes responsibility." Buffy quote "The hardest thing in this world... is to live in it. Be brave. Live." "Make yourself responsible for your own mental health. Buffy learns the hard way that by taking care of everyone else, she's not taking care of herself. Giving herself the emotional space and vulnerability to grieve, breathe, cry, or show her emotions helps her grow and become a better Slayer. By letting your guard down and putting yourself first, you can improve your mindset and create a healthier mental space for yourself." "Embrace the mistakes you're going to make along the way. They're inevitable. No one's perfect, so be gentle with yourself."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Noelle

    This topic is INCREDIBLY important so I am very glad it exists, but I personally needed more depth and nuance to these characters. I feel the target audience is more for younger girls growing up that feel alone in the world, or feeling those pressures from society or... starting to really understand the discrimination that we face as women day to day. It's why I bought it, why I'll support the author and why I'll recommend it to others... It's structured - again why I feel it's suited to a younge This topic is INCREDIBLY important so I am very glad it exists, but I personally needed more depth and nuance to these characters. I feel the target audience is more for younger girls growing up that feel alone in the world, or feeling those pressures from society or... starting to really understand the discrimination that we face as women day to day. It's why I bought it, why I'll support the author and why I'll recommend it to others... It's structured - again why I feel it's suited to a younger audience - and captures perspectives for many great female characters that are good openers for a deep dive into their deeper complexities. One thing that didn't sit right for me was the addition of Keyleth. She's a Critical Role character, and her creator/actor/RP-er is essentially the spokesperson of this book - including an introduction to the book. I play D&D, enjoy Critical Role, so I understand that there's great storytelling and thought that goes through it - but I feel D&D is reactive to stimulus created by the DM. To me, I felt that it didn't fit with these characters who are carefully constructed by authors over a greater period of time. In saying that, all the characters featured don't have many pages dedicated so it wasn't a hinderance.. It's just something that created a bit of a blocker for me, but it's not major at all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Evelie

    First, I did very much enjoy this book. It is well written, and a fairly easy read to get through. (The length it took me to read having more to do with suddenly getting busy and forgetting I was i n the middle of it.) However, do not go into this book expecting depth. This book does an excellent job of casting a wide net and explaining the surface levels of a variety of mental health issues faced by individuals today. It does a good job of linking those issues to fictional characters and giving First, I did very much enjoy this book. It is well written, and a fairly easy read to get through. (The length it took me to read having more to do with suddenly getting busy and forgetting I was i n the middle of it.) However, do not go into this book expecting depth. This book does an excellent job of casting a wide net and explaining the surface levels of a variety of mental health issues faced by individuals today. It does a good job of linking those issues to fictional characters and giving a summary of how those characters either do deal with those troubles or could concievably deal with them. For someone with a passing interest in pyschology who enjoys a variety or fandoms or is perhaps looking for a character with whom to identify with this book is actually very good. If you are looking for a more academic study that goes in depth on the various mental health issues and the characters involved this is not the book for you. I do recommend the book, but keep your expectations in mind.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This was alright. I bypassed a lot of it, only reading the sections on characters I knew (which actually wasn’t that many; I’m apparently not that up on female characters in pop culture.) 🙃 This was a very simple book with short, simple chapters and simple explanations of everything these women go through on their journeys. I’d have liked to go more in depth on Scully and Xena especially, as they’re my favourites. I think this is aimed at a much younger audience than me and that may be why it read This was alright. I bypassed a lot of it, only reading the sections on characters I knew (which actually wasn’t that many; I’m apparently not that up on female characters in pop culture.) 🙃 This was a very simple book with short, simple chapters and simple explanations of everything these women go through on their journeys. I’d have liked to go more in depth on Scully and Xena especially, as they’re my favourites. I think this is aimed at a much younger audience than me and that may be why it read as far too simple for me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. None of the information I read is going to stick with me. Probably good for young girls just getting into pop culture though. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it when I was 11-13.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Adam Johnson

    I really loved this: I got to read brief essays on inspiring women, learn about mental health and women's daily struggles, and find new things to appreciate in pop culture, from Supergirl to Lost to Avengers: Age of Ultron and even Dungeons and Dragons, that I was never aware of because of my life experience. For me reading as much as I could at once (it's a short read at around 175 pages), the similar structure of the essays started to blur after a while, but the information in here is so good I really loved this: I got to read brief essays on inspiring women, learn about mental health and women's daily struggles, and find new things to appreciate in pop culture, from Supergirl to Lost to Avengers: Age of Ultron and even Dungeons and Dragons, that I was never aware of because of my life experience. For me reading as much as I could at once (it's a short read at around 175 pages), the similar structure of the essays started to blur after a while, but the information in here is so good and needed, I really can't fault Towers for that. Researched, incisive, inspiring, positive, enlightening, and practical - "Geek Girls Don't Cry" is worth your time whether you're a consumer or a creative.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melvalan Uircalen

    An inspiring book. Opening it up and starting to read, I wasn't entirely sure about what I would find, and having now read it, I can say that I am not disappointed by my purchase. The book covers a multitude of different mental illnesses and does so in a way that is is to relate with and find something to bring along into your own life. Something that you can later look back at and thing "huh, this reminds me of ..." and therefore correctly find help and or support someone. All in all, a very comp An inspiring book. Opening it up and starting to read, I wasn't entirely sure about what I would find, and having now read it, I can say that I am not disappointed by my purchase. The book covers a multitude of different mental illnesses and does so in a way that is is to relate with and find something to bring along into your own life. Something that you can later look back at and thing "huh, this reminds me of ..." and therefore correctly find help and or support someone. All in all, a very compelling book that shines a light on many mental illnesses and does so in an easy to grasp manner. Would definitely recommend that you check out this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    As a pop culture geek and someone who considered going into psychiatry I knew I would love this book and it did not disappoint. It provides real-life coping mechanisms for a variety of everyday issues while highlighting some of my favorite tv and movie characters as examples. It made me remember why I love these characters and want to go back and revisit some of my faves. I plan on sharing this book with friends for many years to come and am happy to finally have something substantial to point t As a pop culture geek and someone who considered going into psychiatry I knew I would love this book and it did not disappoint. It provides real-life coping mechanisms for a variety of everyday issues while highlighting some of my favorite tv and movie characters as examples. It made me remember why I love these characters and want to go back and revisit some of my faves. I plan on sharing this book with friends for many years to come and am happy to finally have something substantial to point to when I try and explain to non-geeks why I relate to and cherish pop culture characters as much as I do.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alana

    This was a great book. I throughly enjoyed reading about the psychology behind different pop culture women and how they overcome their different plights. I can see myself picking up this book and re-reading a chapter or two when I feel I need a bit of motivation. I didn’t give it five stars because the way it was laid out started to feel very repetitive. Every character is introduced and explained in the same format. There were two Q&A’s towards the end that I didn’t care to read because I didn’t This was a great book. I throughly enjoyed reading about the psychology behind different pop culture women and how they overcome their different plights. I can see myself picking up this book and re-reading a chapter or two when I feel I need a bit of motivation. I didn’t give it five stars because the way it was laid out started to feel very repetitive. Every character is introduced and explained in the same format. There were two Q&A’s towards the end that I didn’t care to read because I didn’t care to hear their answers to the same questions that had already been answered by a few other women before.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Deanne Townshend

    This book did the exact opposite of its title: I cried the whole way through it. This is the voice of our geeky generation, the voice that makes sure we are seen. It was so cathartic and inclusive Though I was familiar with nearly all the characters, I am interested to learn more about the ones I didn't after learning about their stories. Even when a topic or struggle didn't resonate with me personally, it is undeniably interesting and inspiring. Content Warning: Pretty much everything, so read t This book did the exact opposite of its title: I cried the whole way through it. This is the voice of our geeky generation, the voice that makes sure we are seen. It was so cathartic and inclusive Though I was familiar with nearly all the characters, I am interested to learn more about the ones I didn't after learning about their stories. Even when a topic or struggle didn't resonate with me personally, it is undeniably interesting and inspiring. Content Warning: Pretty much everything, so read the sectional intros

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    I thought it was interesting, a little too Girl Boss for me. I thought there was certainly some really great parts of it, but overall I thought the book was lacking in some other actual lessons to be learned and finding inspiration. I think that this is really great for some people, but maybe not others. I also felt like there were moments that could have brought up sexism in the geek community in a better way. The book felt like it was for a very specific type of Geek Girl, mostly white and mos I thought it was interesting, a little too Girl Boss for me. I thought there was certainly some really great parts of it, but overall I thought the book was lacking in some other actual lessons to be learned and finding inspiration. I think that this is really great for some people, but maybe not others. I also felt like there were moments that could have brought up sexism in the geek community in a better way. The book felt like it was for a very specific type of Geek Girl, mostly white and mostly straight, and I just didn't really relate to that part of geekdom.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Jeske

    Andrea has given the world a gift. It's not just a fun adventure into pretending our favorite fictional characters are real. It's an important and significant book filled with understanding, empathy, and hope. Andrea helps erase the stigma surrounding mental health by sharing the stories of easily-relatable & well-loved characters in comics, movies, and books. By finding strength in these complex women, we can find strength in ourselves. Thank you Andrea! Andrea has given the world a gift. It's not just a fun adventure into pretending our favorite fictional characters are real. It's an important and significant book filled with understanding, empathy, and hope. Andrea helps erase the stigma surrounding mental health by sharing the stories of easily-relatable & well-loved characters in comics, movies, and books. By finding strength in these complex women, we can find strength in ourselves. Thank you Andrea!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emily Mammel

    I really wanted to love this book. The writing style just wasn’t for me, as it felt more like an essay that was repetitive than necessary. Some lines felt like they missed the mark a little. For instance, when writing about Katniss, the gist of one line is that hope is more important than happiness, and I tend to disagree with that. Overall, it wasn’t bad and I don’t regret reading it, but I think it could have been done better.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This was a great collection of quotes and lessons from a number of awesome female characters. I think my favorite section was the one about Keyleth from Critical Role, but that may be because I am so attached to the character in the first place.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Feeney

    I guess I just wanted more from it? Each section was pretty short and could summed up with "It's okay to look to fictional characters for strength when you go through tough times" and then some examples of those characters and their tough times.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily Towns

    Great cover, fantastic concept, kind of "meh" execution. I loved the idea and the author's passion for the characters she chose came through, but the chapters were so short and I kind of wished she would deep dive a little more. The whole thing ended up getting a little repetitive.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Soulfire

    Now I want to go back and rewatch all my favorite shows so I can rediscover my favorite women characters.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Interesting psychology behind each character, a good book if you need a super heroine boost.

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