For Greer, college has had a rocky start. From losing her Ivy League dream school and navigating a long-distance relationship to being violated at a frat party and finding a place to fit in, she feels voiceless in a place with too many voices. However, things begin to change when her activist friend, Zee, brings Greer along to an event featuring iconic feminist, Faith Frank.
The Female Persuasion is one of those books you'll be thinking about for a long time after you finish the final pages. Wolitzer has created a piece of fiction that is both engaging and insightful in a way that doesn't seem to patronize or capitalize on the feminist movement. There has been a lot of concern lately about feminism becoming an ideology for purchase (we've all seen the shirts, hats, keychains, etc. being peddled by multi-million dollar clothing companies …) but, in my opinion, Wolitzer approached the topic with care and produced a book that can be instructional, comforting, and thoroughly good.
One of my favorite parts about reading this book was the vast timeline of the story. We follow Greer, Faith Frank, Zee, and Greer's boyfriend, Cory, for over a decade of their lives and the growth comes with challenges and triumphs for each of them in different ways. Greer, our main narrator, begins unhappily as a meek college freshman, but expands with the story into a feminist with a voice. Perhaps most satisfyingly, she is able to lend her voice to others through her work at the feminist organization headed by her idol, Faith Frank. The development of Greer was matched by Zee's struggle and, eventually, great success in finding her place in the world and also Cory's challenges as he faces a new life. In complement to the young people's progress up, we are also able to look backwards into the beginnings of the feminist movement through the eyes of Faith. The trajectory of each character is very real and even Frank, who is immortalized in the eyes of many throughout the story, makes mistakes and disappoints, which is an important theme to write into stories. No one, even the greats, are without imperfections.
The last piece of The Female Persuasion I want to touch on is the embodiment of feminism itself. I underlined so many lines and sat with so many of the ideas brought up throughout the book. The span of the timeline brings up many types of feminism from quite a few valuable perspectives and the mentorship relationship of Greer and Faith Frank fosters the type of learning that is essential to create in the world. If you've ever talked with someone who resents radical feminism or has negative associations with the word, this book might help you approach them with different perspectives and with a larger arsenal of explanations.
Overall? A really great book that I know I'll reread in the future. Pick it up if you're interested in the feminist movement, if you want to read about a mentor / mentee relationship, or if you are interested in a book that tackles a very large timeline!