The First Lady of Iceland takes readers on an exploration of the island nation with a focus on its triumphs and stumbles on a journey toward gender equality, featuring profiles of several "sprakkar," or high-achieving women.
Reid’s story is riveting in and of itself ... Reid is careful to point out the ways in which Iceland falls short ... Why Iceland has been more willing than, say, the United States to create a social safety net for its citizens is a question that doesn’t get answered here — but Reid makes a compelling case that there can be no equality without one ... At its heart, Reid’s book is also a 'love letter' from an immigrant to a country afflicted with the insecurity she labels 'Small Nation Complex'. And like all love letters, it shines when it’s personal. The most vivid sense of Iceland’s unique approach to gender comes through Reid’s own experiences ... Throughout, her newcomer’s delight in Icelandic details will charm readers ... The catalog of people and issues does in places start to feel like an obligatory political listening tour, as the pressure to be a first lady — attuned to the people’s story and not her own — creeps in at the expense of this particular first lady, who happens to be a lively writer with a tale of her own to tell. At one point, she writes, 'But none of this is about me.' It’s a tribute to her voice that you hope her next book is.
Maybe reading Eliza Reid’s book, Secrets of the Sprakkar, in the hot tub is part of why I enjoyed it so much, but it's also true that Reid’s style is amusing, her thoughts are honest, and the issues she discusses are becoming more important by the day ... Reid writes in hopes that the rest of the world might see Iceland as a model, and, in addition to agreeing with her, I also recommend her short, well-written, amusing and detailed book.
As she interviews women making a difference in her country, she speaks frankly about her own struggles with parenting and living a life of purpose in her husband’s shadow. Intercut within her chapters are profiles of sprakkar, an ancient Icelandic word for extraordinary or outstanding women ... the tiny country of Iceland should serve as an inspiration to the rest of the world.