Plenty of valuable information but marred by too much scolding.

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Evolution of the Feminine Mystique

SEARCHING FOR HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Litman (The Ignorance—Virtues of Sarah Palin, 2010, etc.) welcomes readers to her formulation of the so-called third wave of feminism.

Savvy and funny, Litman boasts an impressive resume: graduation as a registered nurse, top litigator and senior partner at a well-respected Dallas law firm, stay-at-home mom extraordinaire, and now blogger and author. As a writer, Litman is delightfully sarcastic. She enjoys turning storybook mythology on its head: why in the world would all those Disney damsels in distress wait to be saved by a Prince Charming? For those unfamiliar with the history of the women’s movement in the United States, Litman offers a useful recounting of the fight for women’s suffrage and the birth of “women’s liberation” in the 1960s. The new battle, it seems, is to help women understand that while they may be able to “have it all,” something’s got to give—and it better not be the well-being of the children. Today, she says, we are on the forefront of the final stage of equality: professional opportunities abound. But beware the cost. “Betty [Friedan] initiated the Second Wave, encouraging women to fight for the right to pursue a profession. I am fighting for the right of women not to pursue a profession,” Litman says. She argues forcefully that women need to support each other for the professional and personal choices they make. Yet she undermines her own thesis with constant admonitions to women about the dire consequences of waiting too long to have children (difficulty conceiving due to old age and the increased potential for birth defects are among her favorite warnings) as well as the psychological damage done to children whose mothers opt to spend their time in the office. She saves her sharpest barbs for Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, whose advice to professional women is to “lean in.” Says Litman: “Remember that every time Ms. Sandberg appears to give a speech about women’s issues, her book, or the great balancing act, she is taking time away from her children.”

Plenty of valuable information but marred by too much scolding.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 951

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2015

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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