Welcome to the first Rose Recommends of 2017! This month I suggest a topical book I picked up at my library on the day of the Women’s March: Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World by Laura Barcella.
I was working at the library and scrolling through my social media feed, seeing a ton of my friends marching for women in cities all around the U.S. (and even some around the world!). Feeling a bit bummed I was working, I searched for what books we have that are about feminists. And boom! This one is just what I was looking for.
As with all my Rose Recommends posts, my goal is to talk about a book (or books) that aren’t being talked about for one reason or another, whether they be classics that aren’t widely read, books that don’t get discussed on BookPress, or just plain obscure. Appallingly, this book only has 84 ratings on Goodreads! 84!!!
We shelved this book in the YA section (on a great display with books about fighting for rights of all kinds – way to go, teen department!), though it definitely can have a wide cross-over audience. The title of this book explains itself: the author gives biographies of 50 feminists from throughout history, starting with Mary Wollstonecraft and ending with Malala Yousafzai. With only 50 in the book, the author herself admits in the introduction that there are some important feminists she chose to leave out – notably Gloria Steinem, for example. She explains that she wanted to include not only the famous household-name-type feminists but also feminists who don’t get talked about much in classrooms or the media. There are definitely some women in this book who I’ve never heard of.
Each woman’s section is divided into parts. At the top is the name, birth and death year (if applicable), profession, and claim to fame of each woman. Then there is a part about the woman’s legacy, followed by a brief bio of her life. After that, there are some “Cool Credentials,” which are further interesting details about her life and/or work. Each section ends and begins with significant quotations by the woman. Additionally, there are illustrations throughout the book, some of which are likenesses of the women themselves, others of images related to their life and work.
The book is great to pick up here and there and open at random if you just want a small taste of something (which is what I need right now amidst all my school reading), but it is also readable if you choose to go cover-to-cover. The writing style is simple enough to be understandable, but there are definitely vocabulary and historical/contextual references that may not be fully understood by some teens. This book would be a fantastic resource for teachers wanting brief overviews of specific feminists. Though it’s non-fiction, Laura Barcella’s own voice shines through so that the book isn’t too dry or “boring,” which some teens might assume of non-fiction.
I love that the author includes details about the complexities of these women’s beliefs – come were anti-abortion, some held controversial views about femininity – but all had significant impacts on the advancement of women in society. She admits that some of the women in this book would not have considered themselves feminists, while others probably wouldn’t be considered feminists by today’s standards but were revolutionary in their time. A minor critique I have is that there are no men in the line-up; men can be feminists, too, and it’s important for teens to understand that. She wanted to hit major players, and you simply can’t include everyone in a list of 50. Altogether I highly recommend this book to, well, everyone!
YA non-fiction (though great for adults, too!)
FOR THOSE WHO LIKE:
- Quick-snippet reads
THINGS PEOPLE MIGHT NOT LIKE:
- Missing some important people