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THE FURIES

WOMEN, VENGEANCE, AND JUSTICE

Stirring narratives of defiance.

Why three women became vigilantes.

Drawing on in-depth interviews over many years, Emmy Award–winning journalist Flock, author of The Heart Is a Shifting Sea, creates vivid profiles of three women who responded to abuse with violence and vengeance. “Like alchemists,” writes the author, they “took their stories of pain and transmuted them into power.” In Alabama, Brittany Smith shot a man who had raped and nearly killed her. Angoori Dahariya, a lower-caste wife and mother, emulated India’s legendary Bandit Queen to become a leader of a gang of women who avenged crimes against the poor. Cicek Mustafa Zibo, at 17, joined an all-female militia, the Women’s Protection Units, that operated in concert with men’s units to fight against the Islamic State group in Syria. Flock portrays these women as tireless fighters against forces trying to silence them. Dahariya amassed a large following: From just a dozen at the start, her Green Gang swelled to more than 1,000 women, who shared stories “of domestic violence, dowry harassment, beating by in-laws, land-grabbing, police abuse, abandonment by husbands, molestation, rape, and more.” While her successes inspired other gangs to spring up across India, Smith faced repeated frustrations in defending herself against a murder charge, first claiming self-defense, then invoking the stand-your-ground law. Her case dragged on for years, during which she sometimes relapsed into drug use. Zibo was shot and seriously wounded, but she rejoined the fighting. Yet after nearly a decade of war, she often felt hopeless and embittered. These women, writes Flock, “sought to change the status quo, yet never fully escaped the oppressive systems they grew up in and continue to live under.” Nevertheless, they found, and inspired in others, “agency, a voice, and an identity beyond how the men in their towns saw them,” even though, in their own lives, “they got no perfect, happy endings.”

Stirring narratives of defiance.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2024

ISBN: 9780063048805

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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