Review of Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life

Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life
by Winifred Conkling
Middle School, High School    Feiwel    305 pp.    g
6/20    978-1-250-24457-4    $19.99

Conkling (Radioactive!, rev. 3/16; Votes for Women!, rev. 3/18) opens this insightful biography of the feminist icon with a close call. In 1956, when she was twenty-two, Steinem called off wedding plans, feeling she wasn’t ready for “a little death” (i.e., marriage). Conkling posits: “If Steinem had chosen to marry Chotzinoff, she may never have changed the world the way she did. By breaking with traditional expectations, Steinem was able to realize her dreams and redefine what it meant to be a twentieth-century feminist.” Conkling takes readers through her subject’s upbringing in a loving but unstable household; her early career as a freelance writer and journalist; her embrace of feminism in the late 1960s (initially she had considered herself “a humanist rather than a feminist”); and her emergence as a leading voice in the second wave of American feminism. The chronological narrative highlights through-lines in Steinem’s story, including her commitment to social justice, equality, and intersectionality (long before the concept had a name). Gen Z readers will come away with a deeper appreciation for how much has changed for women during Steinem’s lifetime and how much of that change was forged by Steinem herself. Extensive back matter includes timelines of Steinem’s life and of feminism in America, a “Who’s Who” list, source notes, and a bibliography. Photographs and index not seen.

From the July/August 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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