The Book of Gutsy Women by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
Gutsy: marked by courage, pluck, or determination. We say ‘gutsy’ when we mean that someone has an inner strength, they can take what is thrown at them; they have ‘guts’.
The Book of Gutsy Women: Favourite Stories of Courage and Resiliance is exactly that. United States politician Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea turn to history, the past and contemporary, to present us with the tales of more than one hundred women who rightly deserve the label of gutsy women. The Clintons, while lamenting all the other women they could have included and weren’t able to, have chosen women who have inspired them in their own lives. The strength of this collection of brief biographies is that it manages to include so many who are not at the forefront of history. Well known names such as Florence Nightingale, Maya Angelou and Ellen DeGeneres sit beside lesser known, such as Nadia Murad, Dolores Huerta, and Alice Min Soo Chin. Whether they have shown bravery in the face of real violence and danger, set records, advocated for what they believed in, or invented, the book is a reminder of all the incredible things that women can do, and have done, no matter who or what is holding them back.
The Clintons obviously have an American focus in their choices, but the book does include women from a wide range of cultures and times. There are ‘Education Pioneers’ and ‘Earth Defenders’, ‘Activists’ and ‘Storytellers’, ‘Athletes’ and ‘Women’s Rights Champions’, and more. I had never heard of Daisy Bates. Born in the United States in the early half of the twentieth century, even as a young girl she was incensed at the treatment women and men of her skin colour received. Her mother had been murdered just a few months after she was born. As a teenager she received this advice from someone close to her: “You’re filled with hatred. Hatred can destroy you […]. If you hate, make it count for something […] try and do something about it, or your hate won’t spell a thing”. Daisy turned her positive efforts to fighting for integration of black students into previously white schools. Both young adults and adult readers will find resonant messages and interest in its pages. Perhaps it might open discussion between mother and daughters, who could take turns finding their favourite stories. In saying that, the challenges the women take on defy gender stereotypes and conventions, and girls and boys, men and women alike will find gold nuggets of inspiration. It is also the perfect book to read when you’re on the bus, or in a waiting room, because none of the stories are longer than a few pages and are well illustrated with eyecatching portraits. Readers will soon fall into the easy, conversational flow of the Clintons’ storytelling.
I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this book of gutsy women. Not only do I want to hoard my copy, I want to share it and talk about it with family and friends. Its bite-sized stories inform and inspire. The perspectives given of these gutsy women interested me, engaged me and will stay with me.
Reviewer: Susannah Whaley
Simon & Schuster, RRP $49.99