Okay: confession time. I read this because a) Emma Watson suggested it as her “Our Shared Shelf” group on Goodreads for January and b) I needed a non-fiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes for the 2016 Read Harder Challenge. This was not an “oh! I must read this book!” choice so much as a “well, if a whole group of people are going to read it, I might as well choose this one” choice.
I am just young enough where Gloria Steinem has always been a “historical” figure to me. Her heyday – the work that defines her to millions as a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer including her work with the National Women’s Political Caucus and Ms. Magazine – was already well underway by the time I arrived on the planet in the early 80s. When I became conscience of feminism and the strive for equality, Steinem had already been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca, NY. For much of my life, and for feminists like me, Steinem was a figure, not a person.
Perhaps that is the gift of this book, her first in over 20 years (according to her website), is that it can serve to introduce Gloria Steinem to us for the person she is. My Life on the Road is a collection of stories and anecdotes that highlight the life Ms. Steinem has lead. This book isn’t a proper travelogue (which I’ll admit was what I was truly hoping for), nor is it an autobiography as Ms. Steinem is more interested in telling us the tales of the people her life has intersected with as she has built a life mostly without a home base.
But that is also the weakness of this book. It quite literally feels like a collection of random stories (much like traveling itself). While the really great parts are fantastic, most of the book is middling. I felt simply whelmed, not over or under.