KIRKUS REVIEW -
In this follow-up to their 2009 best-seller, Womenomics, which argued for women's right to demand flexibility at the workplace, BBC World News America Washington correspondent Kay and Good Morning America contributor Shipman address how a lack of self-confidence hinders women’s career advancement.
In conversations among successful professional women, the authors have noticed a disturbing pattern: “Compared with men, we don't consider ourselves ready for promotions.” Women, they write, often have the false belief that they should not appear too aggressive—“if we just work harder and don't cause any bother, our natural talents will shine through and be rewarded.” As a result, their careers tend to prematurely plateau. Women lack the kind of self-assertiveness and self-confidence that propel their male counterparts forward, and the authors examine the reasons behind this phenomenon. Their investigation took them from the basketball court, where they spoke with WNBA stars Monique Currie and Crystal Langhorne, to the bastions of the International Monetary Fund and a conversation with Christine Lagarde, one of the most powerful women in the world. Through these interviews, Kay and Shipman confirmed their beliefs about the significant contrast between the typical male approach of pushing forward aggressively (e.g., shouting out questions or making unsubstantiated assertions in order to dominate meetings) and that of women, who instinctively hold back for fear of seeming pushy and aggressive. The authors attribute this to a lack of resilience and a drive for perfection, along with a tendency to dwell on past mistakes. After discussions with neuropsychologists and geneticists, they dismissed the importance of biological components (e.g., hormones or genes). Much more significant was the revelation by a recent graduate of the Naval Academy of the slang acronym that male cadets often apply to coeds: DUBs, or “dumb ugly bitches.”
An insightful look at how internalizing cultural stereotypes can hold women back from competing with men.
KIRKUS REVIEW -
Park ranger Anna Pigeon faces down—or, more accurately, hides from and bedevils—an unusually dangerous criminal in upstate Minnesota’s Iron Range.
When you work in the national parks, what do you do with your time off? If you’re Anna, you take a camping trip with your friends Heath Jarrod, a paraplegic who once saved your life, and Leah Hendricks, an outdoor gear designer, as well as their respective daughters, so Heath can test the latest equipment Leah’s designed for other-abled campers. And if you’re Anna, things quickly turn violent. A gun-toting heavy dubbed “the Dude” confronts the party with three equally well-armed minions and announces his plan to kidnap Leah and Katie Hendricks and kill Heath and her adopted daughter, Elizabeth. Luckily for the women, Anna happens to have stepped out for a few minutes to spend some quality time alone with nature, and although the Dude has been informed that there’s a fifth woman, he’s easily persuaded that she canceled out at the last minute. So begins a prolonged game of cat and mouse in which Anna, unarmed and accompanied only by Heath’s elderly dog, Wily, stalks the oblivious predators and their victims, watching for her chance to disarm or kill the small-time thugs—leering Sean Ferris, witless Jimmy Spinks and gangbanger Reg Waters—or grab the brass ring by neutralizing the Dude. The formula guarantees nonstop suspense (though not so much if you’re convinced that Anna and her friends will survive), but Barr (The Rope, 2012, etc.), writing as usual with welcome delicacy and feeling, works a surprising number of variations on her theme, right up to the predictable but satisfying final twist.
A tour de force that’s both the most one-dimensional and the most satisfying of Anna’s recent adventures.
KIRKUS REVIEW -
With the assistance of Chambers (co-author; Yes, Chef, 2012, etc.), broadcaster Roberts (From the Heart: Eight Rules to Live By, 2008) chronicles her struggles with myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare condition that affects blood and bone marrow.
The author is a well-known newscaster, formerly on SportsCenter and now one of the anchors of Good Morning America. In 2007, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she successfully fought with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Five years later, after returning from her news assignment covering the 2012 Academy Awards, she learned that chemotherapy had resulted in her developing MDS, which led to an acute form of leukemia. Without a bone marrow transplant, her projected life expectancy was two years. While Roberts searched for a compatible donor and prepared for the transplant, her aging mother’s health also began to gravely deteriorate. Roberts faced her misfortune with an athlete’s mentality, showing strength against both her disease and the loss of her mother. This is reflected in her narration, which rarely veers toward melodrama or self-pity. Even in the chapters describing the transplantion process and its immediate aftermath, which make for the most intimate parts of the book, Roberts maintains her positivity. However, despite the author’s best efforts to communicate the challenges of her experience and inspire empathy, readers are constantly reminded of her celebrity status and, as a result, are always kept at arm's length. The sections involving Roberts’ family partly counter this problem, since it is in these scenes that she becomes any daughter, any sister, any lover, struggling with a life-threatening disease. “[I]f there’s one thing that spending a year fighting for your life against a rare and insidious…disease will teach you,” she writes, “it’s that time is not to be wasted.”
At-times inspirational memoir about a journalist’s battle with a grave disease she had to face while also dealing with her mother’s passing.