Meg Wolitzer’s new novel The Female Persuasion really speaks to me as a young woman in my mid-twenties, because the main character Greer Kadetsky is around that age for the majority of the novel. It opens with her during her freshman year at college, she is away from her high school boyfriend for the first time and furious with her parents who messed up on her financial aid forms for Yale so she was unable to attend her dream school. Anxious and too-quiet, Greer doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life or if she will ever find her place at Ryland College, her safety school. One night while moping in the common room a girl named Zee invites Greer to go to some parties with her, a decision that changes the course of Greer’s life as she and Zee become best friends. Zee later convinces Greer to go to a talk by Faith Frank, a second-wave feminist from the 70’s-80’s, who is now the editor for a woman’s magazine. That night Greer connects with Faith whom she later ends up working for, launching her own career in feminist writing. Greer’s emotional strength through troubling times sustains her and allows her to come into her own. The book showcases the wonderful and sometimes difficult relationships between parents and children, mentor and mentee, and friends as Greer grows and learns. Other works by Meg Wolitzer: The Interestings, The Wife, and The Position.
Set in the near-future, Red Clocks by Leni Zumas, provides a portrait of America where most of the rights of women concerning their bodies and reproductive activities have been stripped away. The Federal Government has banned all abortions, no matter the circumstances. The United States and Canada have struck a deal that any woman caught trying to cross the border to obtain an abortion will be arrested and shipped back to their state for imprisonment. As if that was not bad enough the Federal Government has passed a law that does not allow single people or LGBTQIA+ couples to adopt and in vitro fertilization has been banned. The book follows the lives of five different women as they struggle through this new world they are forced to live in. Each woman handles their trials and tribulations differently but each one finds their own path that allows them to live in this new and frightening world.
Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed, is a haunting and hard to read book that doesn’t really fit into a neat genre. Set on an island sometime in the future after a post-apocalyptic event, their society has become cult-like, following tenants decreed by the first settlers and added to by the men called The Wanderer’s. These are the only people allowed off the island and into “the Wastelands” or anything not the island. In a strictly patriarchal society, women and girls have no say in their lives, and must submit to the will of their Fathers and then their Husbands. The only time girls are allowed any freedom is during the summer when they are allowed to run wild and do whatever they please. Some girls will do anything to maintain this way of life including starving themselves so that they will never mature physically. I was unable to put this book down and zoomed through it because the plot was intense and I just wanted to know what happened next. I am excited to read Melamed’s next book when it is published.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
Daughters of the North by Sarah Hall