Book Review: The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid by Kate Hattemer

I managed to pick up a copy of The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid by Kate Hattemer at the OLA conference. Both the cover and the title intrigued me.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary


A novel about friendship, feminism, and the knotty complications of tradition and privilege, perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Stephanie Perkins.

Jemima Kincaid is a feminist, and she thinks you should be one too. Her private school is laden with problematic traditions, but the worst of all is prom. The guys have all the agency; the girls have to wait around for promposals (she’s speaking heteronormatively because only the hetero kids even go). In Jemima’s (very opionated) opinion, it’s positively medieval.

Then Jemima is named to Senior Triumvirate, alongside superstar athlete Andy and popular, manicured Gennifer, and the three must organize prom. Inspired by her feminist ideals and her desire to make a mark on the school, Jemima proposes a new structure. They’ll do a Last Chance Dance: every student privately submits a list of crushes to a website that pairs them with any mutual matches.

Meanwhile, Jemima finds herself embroiled in a secret romance that she craves and hates all at once. Her best friend, Jiyoon, has found romance of her own, but Jemima starts to suspect something else has caused the sudden rift between them. And is the new prom system really enough to extinguish the school’s raging dumpster fire of toxic masculinity?

Filled with Kate Hattemer’s signature banter, this is a fast-paced and thoughtful tale about the nostalgia of senior year, the muddle of modern relationships, and how to fight the patriarchy when you just might be part of the patriarchy yourself.

My thoughts:

The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid is a novel about an emerging young woman who learns to take a look at herself and at the way other people see her. Jemima learns that she needs to take a step back and think about what – and who – is important to her and who she wants to have in her life.

As suggested in the title, the concept of feminism plays a role in the novel. Jemima comes to understand what true feminism is. It is not about being the antithesis of femininity. Instead, it is about knowing who you are, being comfortable with it, and supporting other women who express themselves in ways that are comfortable to them. She comes to realise that a woman can be feminine – and still fight the patriarchy. She also comes to the realisation that her reactions might just be supporting the patriarchal system.

Hattemer has shared with us a story that is a life story – not a love story. It is a story that centres on the message that girls can empower and support one another in subtle ways and, in so doing, work against the patriarchal system.

The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid is a coming of age novel that is a perfect read for those thinking about what type of person they want to be in our society. It is also a story which shows the importance of supporting other young women.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 16th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

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