Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner 5 of 5 stars.
She is beautiful, she is a princess, and Aphrodite is her favorite goddess, but something in Helen of Sparta just itches for more our of life. Unlike her prissy sister, Clytemnestra, she takes no pleasure in weaving and embroidery. And despite what her mother says, she's not even close to being interested in getting married. Instead, she wants to do combat training with her brothers, go on heroic adventures, and be free to do what she wishes and find out who she is.
Not one to count on the gods--or her looks--to take care of her, Helen sets out to get what she wants with steely determination and a sassy attitude. And while it's that attitude that makes Helen a few enemies--such as the self-proclaimed "son of Poseidon," Theseus--it's also what intrigues, charms, and amuses those who become her friends, from the famed huntress Atalanta to the young priestess who is the Oracle of Delphi.
Nobody's Princess is the story of Helen of Sparta before she became "the face that launched a thousand ships". The Helen in this story would never have any part of being a prize, a trophy more than a person. Helen knows from a young age that she wants freedom, not domestic duties. She is willing to fight for them no matter how long it takes. Then when her sister is married to the prince of Mykenae and Helen gets her first taste of freedom, she isn't about to let go.
Again, rereading another favorite. I believe I loved it even more this time. The first time I read it, along with the sequel Nobody's Prize, I was horrified that Esther Friesner wasn't writing one last book, what happened during the Trojan War, how Helen actually felt about it. I decided for a while that I would write the third book if she wouldn't. I gave up that idea quickly enough and I see the wisdom in why she wouldn't write another one. Though, I honestly wish she would. These books are amazing. Helen is the strong female character everyone falls in love with instantly. Her brothers and the kind you wish you had. Her adventures weave through real Greek exploits even if she wasn't known to be in them. It is a wonderful book that I would recommend to ANYONE!
For fans of: Esther Friends, Gail Carson Levine, historical fiction, The Iliad