I know “white feminism” is usually used as a pejorative (and appropriately so) but in this case it is also a really good descriptor for what the book is about. It’s about feminism and white ladies who are feminist and their white lady feminist lives. I have a white lady feminist life. I think maybe I just miss the books I read last year about worlds so far removed from my own.
This was a book I really understood well. Our primary protagonist, Greer, is a highly capable young woman finding her place in the world. Her parents have always been less than parental, but her book smarts have gotten her pretty far. There are a few early paragraphs dedicated to her love of books – a love I’m quite glad is returned to later – that really spoke to me. I too am something of an avid reader who loves delving into specifically novels, so those were pages of character description that roped me in tightly. The world changes and time passes, but books are always there.
After directly confronting sexual harassment and sexual assault in college – and confronting how little institutions will do in the face of such – she feels a little unmoored. They took their case as far as they were able but it didn’t feel like enough and what do they do next. Enter Faith Frank, legendary second wave feminist speaker giving a lecture on campus (Gloria Steinem spoke at my high school – Greer, girl, I feel you). Greer parlays a chance encounter into a post-grad job and the story unfurls from there.
In the end, though, this feels like the kind of book that might have had more to say if it had been published ten years ago. Anywhere it tries to make a statement, I found that it was a statement that had been made before, elsewhere, and better. It was all too familiar. It’s not a bad book, it’s just not what I read books for.