THE EMANCIPATION OF CECILY MCMILLAN by Cecily McMillan

THE EMANCIPATION OF CECILY MCMILLAN

An American Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In her first book, Occupy Wall Street protester McMillan tells the story of her arrest, trial, and imprisonment and the personal history that shaped her activism.

On St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, McMillan, then a graduate student and nanny, was arrested for elbowing a police officer in the eye during a celebration of the six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street in New York’s Zuccotti Park. She was convicted and spent 58 days in the jail at Rikers Island. Her outraged memoir lingers over the night of the arrest and the trial while skimming over her time in jail, which led her to a new role as an advocate for prison reform. The activist claims that she just stopped by the park for a few minutes to meet up with a friend, after a long evening of bar-hopping with another friend, and that she was assaulted by a police officer there and went into a series of seizures that left her with only scattered memories of the night. Her blow-by-blow account of the trial—during which, she writes, her lawyers were “saints, for sure,” the judge “made it abundantly clear that he didn’t like me or my lawyers,” and McMillan dressed and made herself up to look like “Activist Barbie”—is peppered with exclamation points and full of outrage. The book opens with a long and not particularly enlightening description of the author’s youth, in which she bounced among the homes of her divorced parents, her grandparents, and a teacher who was temporarily willing to take her in after she emancipated herself at 16. Behavioral problems caused her to be kicked out of one home after another. In her account, other people are shadowy figures that seem to exist only insofar as they impact her life positively or negatively.

A revealing memoir, though one that perhaps reveals aspects of the author’s character she didn't intend to showcase.

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-56858-538-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Nation Books/Perseus
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2016




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