In celebration of its 30th anniversary, City University’s Feminist Press offers an anthology on growing up female, with pieces drawn from contemporary authors as well as the neglected masters the Press helped restore to prominence. Part One, “Family,” includes such classics as an excerpt from Zora Neale Hurston’s gritty, groundbreaking 1942 memoir, Dust Tracks on a Road; “Raymond’s Run” (1979), by recently deceased Toni Cade Bambara, which portrays an African-American girl’s love for her brother, is among the modern work here. The “Teachers and Friends” section ranges from “The Fire,” Helen Rose Hull’s 1917 tale of a teenager’s subtly erotic relationship with her art teacher, to an excerpt from A Cross and a Star, in which Marjorie Agosín chronicles her Jewish mother’s experiences growing up in a small Chilean town filled with Nazis. Part Three, “Work and the World,” contains some of the publisher’s most treasured rediscoveries, from Agnes Smedley (Daughters of Earth) to Kate Chopin (“Wiser Than God”).
Recalling her girlhood frustration at finding no books that accurately reflected the female experience, Marilyn French exclaims in her introduction, “If only The Feminist Press had existed then!” Today’s mothers and daughters will cherish this wide-ranging collection as a pleasing reminder that it’s here now.