I consider myself a feminist, but in many ways, a conservative feminist. I know we need books on women and diversity. However, I am tired of the flood of books that have hit the market which makes them feel watered down; cliché; and repetitive. I know the women presented are/were amazing women who forged ahead so I can have this opinion, but I want new people, something different, something where I have fun reading and even learn from. Therefore, when I first read about Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu I was thinking it was going to be “the usual.” Yet, it really is far from it.
Perhaps what made it different at first is that it was published in 2016 and 2017 as volume one and two. Therefore, it was one of the first books out there on the subject. And originally was published in French. This second detail makes me assume the author would have a different attitude on the subject. That and finally the 29 women (30 if you count the author) presented were what made this a must read.
The stories are what we have heard before: women breaking down the walls of the patriarchy; color barriers, sexual barriers and even gender. From Nellie Bly (journalist) to Mae Jamison (astronaut; guest star on Star Trek which gives her double coolness points). From the concubine Empresses, Wu Zetian (who knew how to get it what she wanted) to an Islamic Rapper, Sonita Alizadeh (who fights being sold off to a husband but has seen her own niece submitted to this practice). From names we know (Tove Jansson) to little-known/unknown names (Clémentine Delait), we see actresses, pin-ups, dancers, athletes, political activists, social workers, authors, and so many more come to life.
As mentioned, several names were unfamiliar to me and others more familiar. Yet, most are not who you see in the other books. There was no Helen Keller or Anne Frank but a mixture of the “everyday woman” to the privileged woman who did grand things. These introductions are simplified biographies illustrated in a graphic novel format but cover the highlights.
Due to language, sexual mentions and concepts for ages 13 and up. But adult can read too, and enjoy, learn and be able to talk to their children as well. And while it a book about females, boys should read as well.