A collection of biographies of 50 famous and not-so-famous females, both living and very long dead, who share a common thread of being strong—although not always admirable—women.
Those (not all meritorious) sharing the limelight are a disparate group. They range from about 15 women from long ago, such as the Trung sisters, leaders in first-century Vietnam, and Countess Erzsébet Báthory, a prolific mass murderer in 17th-century Hungary, to contemporary women, including performers Ellen DeGeneres, Joan Baez, and Tina Fey. Business leaders (Anna Maria Chávez, Sheryl Sandberg, Suze Orman, and Estée Lauder), such scientists as Marie Curie and Ellen Ochoa, political activists, artists, and world leaders round out the group. A majority of the subjects are women of color—a very nice touch. Although the factual information seems accurate, these highly condensed biographies (some just one to two pages long) lack room for the nuances that characterize lives. Suppositions, especially regarding women who lived centuries ago, are presented as facts. Unnecessary sentence fragments and abundant exclamation points create an unfortunate flavor of Ripley’s Believe It or Not–style ephemera. The exclamation points sometimes seem to diminish accomplishments: “Now, [Ellen] DeGeneres has the life she always wanted. She’s famous, she’s special—and people like her!” Only four attractive, caricaturelike illustrations were available for review.
Primarily entertaining rather than informative, these slick, superficial biographies are more fluff than substance. (bibliography, personality-type quiz, vocabulary guide) (Collective biography. 10-14)