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GRACE AND GRIT

MY FIGHT FOR EQUAL PAY AND FAIRNESS AT GOODYEAR AND BEYOND

Frank and feisty.

Former Goodyear floor manager turned equal-rights activist Ledbetter knew from childhood that she “was going somewhere special.”

However, the Alabama native never dreamed that she would one day spearhead the fight for equal pay for working women. Ledbetter grew up in the Southern backwater town of Possum Trot at a time when women were expected to do little more than find a husband and have children. After marrying at 17, she became a depressed, dissatisfied stay-at-home mother of two. Against her traditionalist husband’s wishes, she took a minimum-wage part-time job, which quickly turned into a full-time office-management position. Still, her success on the job was always tinged with working woman’s guilt: “someone or something was not always tended to properly” at home. At 41, Ledbetter decided to become a supervisor at a local Goodyear plant to help ensure her family’s security. A few of her mostly male colleagues supported her, but she often felt as though she was “a missionary in a strange land, trying to convert [the natives] to a new religion.” The author struggled against hostility, harassment and endless humiliation for almost 20 years only to discover that her male counterparts were making thousands of dollars more per year than she was. For 10 years after that, she pursued bitter anti-discrimination court battles that yielded nothing financially but eventually brought into existence the fair-pay legislation that bears her name. Ledbetter’s story is inspiring, but some readers may wonder why she persisted in a job that, for all its apparent prestige, proved so physically and emotionally damaging to her.

Frank and feisty.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-88792-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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