When Women Were Dragons
Kelly Barnhill — 2022
A slyly funny, utterly original, triumphantly feminist novel, by the Newbery award-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon, about the Mass Dragoning of 1955 in which 300,000 women spontaneously transform into dragons…and change the world. Alex Green is a young girl in a world much like ours. But this version of 1950’s America is characterized by a significant 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. Seemingly for good. 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, even more so than her crush on Sonja, her schoolmate. Forced into silence, Alex nevertheless must face the consequences of dragons: a mother more protective than ever; a father growing increasingly distant; the upsetting insistence that her aunt never even existed; and a new “sister” obsessed with dragons far beyond propriety. Through loss, rage, and self-discovery, this story follows Alex’s journey as she deals with the events leading up to and beyond the Mass Dragoning, and her connection with the phenomenon itself. In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the limitations of girlhood. 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.