Books by Rene Denfeld

THE BUTTERFLY GIRL by Rene Denfeld
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 2019

"A humane, though frequently mawkish, look at a system where too many fall through the cracks."
An investigator who specializes in locating missing children turns her attention to a case closer to home. Read full book review >
THE CHILD FINDER by Rene Denfeld
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

"Denfeld's intentions are good, but her tone strikes the wrong notes."
A gifted investigator combs Oregon's snowy mountain forests for a missing girl. Read full book review >
THE ENCHANTED by Rene Denfeld
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 4, 2014

"An over-the-top work with a number of preordained victims but no individuals."
The lost souls are on both sides of the bars in this death-row melodrama, the first novel from the author of works on societal issues (All God's Children, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: April 12, 2011

"Refreshingly free of moralistic lectures about the collective failure of the American health-care system, Christensen's book is a wry, sincere story that makes the need for change inescapably obvious."
A physician's memoir of his years working with homeless youth. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Feb. 1, 2007

"A gripping tale hampered by middling execution. "
An up-close journalistic investigation of street families: groups of young adults who live on the seamy outskirts of dozens of American cities and towns. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Feb. 26, 1997

A writer's thoughtful look at the personal and social implications of her foray into the ``manly art'' of boxing. In 1993, after lawsuits had forced the opening of amateur boxing to women, Denfeld joined the Grand Avenue boxing gym in Portland, Ore., becoming a competitive and successful fighter. In this book, Denfeld describes her experience in sweaty and bruising detail, and uses boxing as a window on the politics of female aggression. She recounts the suspicion and discomfort of the men at the gym when she began her training and how, as she became more skillful, they came to see her not as a woman but as a fighter. Similarly, as her own confidence developed, Denfeld found that she could be every bit as aggressive in the ring as the men. Denfeld argues that the denial of female aggression and the trivialization of female violence are roadblocks to women's equality—depriving them of opportunities in sports and the military, for example. It is also socially dangerous; women's sexual abuse of children, for instance, is rarely discussed. This book has greater authority than The New Victorians (1995), Denfeld's critique of contemporary feminists: She knows more about boxing than she did about feminism. But it would have been even more interesting if she had woven her own background into this story. She makes no mention of her biracial identity, although society, as she notes, regards the aggression of women of color differently from that of white women. Denfeld also grew up poor, which she briefly mentions; since class, too, shapes women's relationship to aggression, anger, and competition, this warrants more discussion. Despite some holes, a well-rendered personal account of female athletic experience—a rare offering. Denfeld also makes an engaging contribution to popular discussion of female aggression, a subject that clearly merits closer attention. (For more on violent females, see David E. Jones's Women Warriors, p. 1783.) Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: March 14, 1995

A too-sweeping polemic arguing that young women feel alienated from a feminist movement overtaken by its male-hating, sexually repressive fringe. In her first book, 28-year-old Denfeld covers some of the same ground as Naomi Wolf, and though she has done far more research, she shows a similar tendency to overstatement: She characterizes the movement as dominated by ``male-bashing,'' antiheterosexuality, goddess worship, and prudishness. Still, some sections of the book are solidly argued. She presents the feminist anti-porn crusade as morally repressive and irrelevant to the majority of women, and she offers a persuasive portrait of feminist theories of ``difference'' (e.g., women are by nature compassionate, cooperative, etc., while men are uncommunicative and competitive) as neo-Victorian stereotypes that put women back on a pedestal. Unfortunately, she presents ``difference'' theory as feminist gospel and never mentions that it is among the most hotly debated topics in academic feminism. Similarly, Denfeld's argument that feminists are out of touch with the everyday needs of most women is only partially convincing. She astutely points out that lack of adequate, affordable child care gets a woeful lack of attention from mainstream feminist organizations. However, she virtually ignores the legions of grassroots feminist groups that are working on other concrete problems like domestic violence, rape, and breast cancer. Denfeld's young interviewees—students, career women, and mothers in their 20s—supposedly represent widespread disaffection with the feminist movement, but they are selected randomly, she admits. What they primarily share is their agreement with Denfeld's own views. More inexplicably, she invariably notes the physical beauty of her subjects (``she is fine-boned, with tapering twists and translucent skin''), which hardly seems relevant to her discussion. A selective portrait of the feminist movement today. (Author tour) Read full book review >