PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewA searching and compassionate investigation ... All but the most learned medical historians will be astonished by what Hazard reveals ... Hazard’s admiration for the human body comes through in her vivid descriptions throughout Womb ... Hazard’s bullishness on the future of reproductive medicine can lead her to some dubious places ... But Womb is realistic about the nonlinear path to scientific progress.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThe book is thick with testimonies from dozens of clinic escorts, but none of them stick around or stand out enough to give the text an emotional or narrative core. Details of the escorts’ histories run together, in part because their work is, by nature, repetitive ... With the great breadth of case studies she conveys, Rankin leaves little room to explore the thornier questions she glances past ... Rankin implies that lawmakers should impose greater penalties and restrictions on demonstrators, but she never lays out exactly what the ideal set of laws would be, or how they would balance the competing rights of patients and protesters.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review... [an] impassioned introduction to the gender inequities of 21st-century America ... Her whirlwind recap of past feminist movements can be reductive, and her liberal use of the first-person plural suggests a commonality of experience at odds with contemporary feminist thought. But if Hill’s intended audience is politically disaffected young women who could be nudged into action by a dismal cascade of data points, She Will Rise makes a decent primer. Hill heads off familiar lines of skepticism with frank explanations for why some women need abortions later in pregnancy, why rape survivors don’t always file police reports and why women often stay with perpetrators of domestic abuse. The last is a struggle Hill knows well; her personal revelations ground that chapter’s statistics in the urgency of real life ... Yet her self-reflection doesn’t extend to the scandal that prompted her book. Hill brushes off her relationship with the staffer as a \'gray area\' that can’t be explained in the \'zero-tolerance\' terms of the #MeToo movement, and insists that her husband constrained her social circles so completely that her campaign was her only outlet for intimacy. Her unwillingness to call her relationship with the staffer what it was — an unambiguous ethical violation — is all the more glaring in light of the book’s premise: that women in office conduct themselves better than the men who outnumber them.
Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
PositiveSlate... a cozy, earnest read, written in the breezy tones of the early feminist internet ... a heartfelt reminder of interpersonal pleasures ... a book that feels both intimate and removed, with its moments of clarity partially clouded by a labored attempt to strike a balance between baring it all and preserving the appearance of an exemplary bond between two supercool people. The first-person passages, having been written by committee, have the slight gloss of an agreed-upon public statement from two people who experienced each beat of the friendship differently. The third-person parts are more revealing, especially those that include both authors’ divergent interpretations of a single event, illustrating a communication breakdown or a chasm where latent resentment can take root ... A chapter on interracial friendships offers a particularly vital consideration of the way Black people like Sow must accept, as a condition of their friendships with white people like Friedman, that those friends will almost certainly end up disappointing them in some racialized way ... But even when Sow and Friedman write in their own voices about their own lives, they maintain a palpable distance from their readers by narrating their lives as a third-person storybook. As a result, some passages feel oversentimentalized... while others are deliberately opaque ... Big Friendship provides some moments of honesty that feel genuinely radical and refreshing ... And yet, Big Friendship is unfailingly warm ... Writing with the crystalline hindsight of friends who learned the hard way, Sow and Friedman reveal the hidden origins of the schisms they paid good money for a therapist to help them heal. After reading this book, their readers might not have to.
PanSlateWhen former National Enquirer executive editor Barry Levine began writing a book about Donald Trump’s relationship to women, some speculated that he might share details about the tabloid’s long-standing protection and eventual endorsement of the president ... broad swaths of the book read as if they were closely adapted from the tabloid’s pages, with all the coy phrasing, wealth worship, and casual misogyny the Enquirer and its peers have long used to simultaneously sensationalize and neutralize the bad behavior of powerful men ...Throughout the book, El-Faizy and Levine attempt to fuse those two strands of Trump’s sexual behavior, the consensual and the nonconsensual, into a unified theory of Trump and women ... At best, this booklong conflation creates an unpleasant discontinuity of content and tone, with stories of violent assault sitting pages apart from passages that describe women in belittling, objectifying terms ... At worst, the way All the President’s Women intermixes Trump’s rich-guy philandering with his alleged assaults completely undermines its ability to do his accusers justice. The authors never say outright that Trump’s alleged sex crimes fall in the same category as his boorish-but-legal macho misbehavior, but it’s hard to follow their hairpin turns from titillating gossip-pages content to stories of alleged abuse that deeply traumatized several women without coming away with the sense that the line between the two is blurrier than it actually is ... For all its worthwhile reporting, All the President’s Women suffers for both its misleading promotional claims and the little attention it pays to the lives of Trump’s accusers before or after the alleged assaults they describe ... The tabloids protected and promoted Trump for decades. Their reporting standards are ill-suited to the task of holding him accountable now.
PanSlateAt times, Brave reads like the ravings of a conspiracy theorist determined to convince untold flocks of sheeple that they’ve been force-fed poison since birth...These observations would sound insane if they didn’t contain essential truths wrapped up in their tinfoil hyperbole ... Brave contains several passages that would make even an amateur progressive activist cringe ... These missteps could theoretically present an opportunity to learn and grow in public, a natural win for someone like McGowan, who seems to be selling her vulnerability in the way most celebrities capitalize on an image of unflappable poise. But McGowan doesn’t demonstrate any interest in sincerely grappling with the diversity of experiences she’ll be expected to represent if she becomes the feminist superstar she wants to be.