Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait by Tina Cassidy

Genre: Nonfiction, history
Secondary Genre: biography, feminism/women’s history
CW: Abuse (prison)
Rep: Quaker

This dual biography of Alice Paul and Woodrow Wilson had me hooked from the first. I was so into it, in fact, that I completely forgot to take notes.

The author frames the two of them as being on an unavoidable collision course throughout their lives, propelled by ambition and their distinctly different views of life and people.

While Alice Paul is a flawed human being (I disagree with her choice not to support more intersectional feminism; she refused to support black women because she thought it would take away from her goals of equality for all women), she is still one of my favorite historical figures. I admire he drive and dedication, and I really wish I could hang out with Lucy Burns because she seems like a hoot. But this book also solidified my dislike of President Wilson (actually, combined with another book I’m reading right now he’s now ranked number 2 on my “Worst American Presidents of All Time” list. I’m sure you can guess who is number one). For example, before reading it I didn’t know he was the reason we had Jim Crow. What a great legacy, she said sarcastically.

It traces both of them from young adulthood through the passage of the 19th amendment. The key point in Wilson’s opposition was that he didn’t believe women were capable of rational thought, despite repeated proof to the contrary. Good thing he was wrong, since he wife wound up running the country after his stroke.

This book covered so much more of the fight for women’s suffrage than I thought it would, and it was an excellent read from beginning to end. My one suggestion is not to get the audiobook; I found the narrator extremely annoying and listed to it even faster than usual just so I wouldn’t have to listen to her. Pick it up in ebook or paperback instead.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Genre: YA contemporary
Format: hard copy
Content warnings: sexism, mentions of sexual assault and rape
Rep: WOC (multiple)
Rating: planchet-5

Viv has always been a “good girl.” She’s never late for class, does all her homework, supports the high school football team on Friday nights, and never gets into trouble. Her family is relieved, since her mom was a bit of a hell raiser in high school, even sporting blue hair to protest the dress code at one point. 

But Viv is starting to get fed up with being “good,” especially when the boys at school are always getting away with “bad:” From making sexist comments in class, to wearing disgusting shirts that sexualize women, to just generally behaving like assholes with no repercussions. 

Taking inspiration from her mother’s Riot Girrrl days in the late 90s, Viv starts a zine, strategically leaving it around school. Her little two page “newsletter” helps stir up the ire of the other girls, who are also sick of being singled out for inconsistent dress code violations and putting up with disgusting comments and being groped in the hallways. Soon Moxie has spawned a movement: from tiny acts of resistance like drawing stars and hearts on their hands to show solidarity, to wearing bathrobes to school in protest of the dress code, to fund raisers. But as the movement grows beyond Viv’s control, there could be some serious repercussions for both her future, and that of her friends and cohorts. 

I loved everything about this book, and I wish I’d had it when I was in high school because it would have been a life changer for me. It’s absolute perfection from start to finish. I might go reread it, even though I just finished it.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Genre: historical
Secondary genre: adventure
Format read: hardback
Positive Rep: POC (multiple, including Middle Eastern and African), mixed race, epilepsy, LGBT+ (gay and aro/ace), autistic coding, Muslim
Series: Montague Siblings vol 2
Rating: planchet-5

Henry “Monty” Montague entered the literary world with a splash in 2017 in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. For fans of our rakish hero concerned about this second book following his somewhat dowdy and straight laced sister, Felicity, let me allay your fears: Petticoats and Piracy is just as funny, queer, and heart-wrenching as the first volume in the series.

One of my favorite bits about this book is that it ca be read as a stand alone. While the backstory and family relationships will make a lot more sense to those who have read Vice and Virtue, Felicity’s story is all her own and she makes that very clear from the beginning: She has left home, supporting herself with part-time work at a bakery while attempting to gain admittance to an Edinburgh medical school in the late 1700s, or at least obtain some sort of apprenticeship on the subject.

Unfortunately, the prevailing attitude at the time is that women are unfit for the medical field–despite the fact that Felicity has, under hazardous and far less than ideal conditions, performed surgery on multiple occasions–including stitching up her own brother’s head after his ear was sliced off in the first book. In fact, in the first ten pages we see her stitching up her boss’s hand after he cuts the tip of his finger off.

Alas, while they are good friends, Callum wants more. When Felicity tries to let him down gently, this “nice guy” accuses her of leading him on and taking advantage of his kindness. The argument, combined with her latest rejection from the medical field, finally helps Felicity reach a decision: it’s time to leave Edinburgh, and have an adventure of her own.

The book is full of plot twists and lively, eccentric characters with easily the most effortlessly diverse cast I’ve reviewed to date.

From start to finish, I loved this book. I related so hard to Felicity. While she can be narrow minded about some things–especially what it means to be female or feminine–through the course of the book she changes her opinions and grows and changes as a person. I loved seeing the development of the various characters.

And never fear–Monty and Percy also show up, and while they do feature prominently in some scenes, they are far from stealing the show.

Definitely pick up this book–and Vice and Virtue–if you have’t yet. In fact, maybe it’s time to give it a re-read.