A provocatively progressive declaration.

The director of communications for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign offers a manifesto for American women seeking empowerment outside patriarchy.

When Clinton lost the election, her setback mirrored the situation for all American women seeking to shatter professional glass ceilings. As Palmieri observes, “the professional world belongs to men, and women are only visitors.” In this follow-up to Dear Madam President (2018), the author creates a modern declaration of independence in 13 sections that draw on feminist history, current events, and her own experiences as a working woman. Each chapter begins with a “proclamation” that rejects "truths" about women created by patriarchy: for example, that only "a limited number of women…can succeed in the world and that the professional advancement of women is a zero-sum game,” or that females must silence themselves in order to be accepted. Palmieri suggests that events and trends like the 2017 Women’s March on Washington, the #MeToo movement, and the unprecedented numbers of women attaining political office in the last two years reveal an increased, vocal desire to “even out the power dynamic between men and women.” Furthermore, the rise to prominence of older, more experienced women disparaged by patriarchy (and also represented by Clinton) can only benefit society. Indeed, Palmieri asserts that midlife has been nothing but productive and “exhilarating” for her. But because American society is governed by the rules of men, women’s continued efforts to better their status have still not achieved the social parity for which such feminist foremothers as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul fought. Inclusivity is at the heart of Palmieri’s "declaration," which she asserts is an attack against patriarchal systems rather than individual men. Inspiring and invigorating, this brief, sharp call to action cries out for continued feminist action in order to create an American society based on “equality for all.”

A provocatively progressive declaration.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5065-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020


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


A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Black Americans declare their love.

This anthology brings together dozens of love letters by prominent Black Americans. The entries, interspersed with illustrations, address an eclectic mix of topics arranged under five categories: Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation. In their introduction, editors Brown and Johnson note the book’s inspiration in the witnessing of violence directed at Black America. Reckonings with outrage and grief, they explain, remain an urgent task and a precondition of creating and sustaining loving bonds. The editors seek to create “a site for our people to come together on the deepest, strongest emotion we share” and thus open “the possibility for shared deliverance” and “carve out a space for healing, together.” This aim is powerfully realized in many of the letters, which offer often poignant portrayals of where redemptive love has and might yet be found. Among the most memorable are Joy Reid’s “A Love Letter to My Hair,” a sensitive articulation of a hard-won sense of self-love; Morgan Jerkins’ “Dear Egypt,” an exploration of a lifelong passion for an ancient world; and VJ Jenkins’ “Pops and Dad,” an affirmation that it “is beautiful to be Black, to be a man, and to be gay.” Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Home: A Reckoning” is particularly thoughtful and incisive in its examination of a profound attachment, “in the best and worst ways,” to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of the pieces pair personal recollections with incisive cultural commentary. The cumulative effect of these letters is to set forth a panorama of opportunities for maintaining the ties that matter most, especially in the face of a cultural milieu that continues to produce virulent forms of love’s opposite. Other contributors include Nadia Owusu, Jamila Woods, Ben Crump, Eric Michael Dyson, Kwame Dawes, Jenna Wortham, and Imani Perry.

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781638931201

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Get Lifted Books/Zando

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

Close Quickview