Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original “Girl” Reporter, Nellie Bly

Deborah Noyes. Viking, $18.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-8037-4017-4
Readers meet Elizabeth Jane Cochran (aka Nellie Bly) on the eve of her illustrious journalism career in the opening pages of Noyes’s (Plague in the Mirror) biography. Over 13 chapters, this story of the innovative, bootstrapping Bly reveals her many juxtaposed traits (“as frivolous as she was socially earnest, as funny and self-deprecating as she was proud and haughty” writes Noyes in a closing note). The winding narrative initially focuses on Bly’s undercover work, getting committed to a New York City asylum and reporting on its appalling conditions, then recounts her other accomplishments, including circumnavigating the globe in fewer than 80 days and other stunt-style assignments, many of which championed the socially downtrodden. Numerous sidebars and interspersed spreads explore Bly’s childhood and other topics, but while these frequent diversions provide useful context, they are also distracting, forcing shifts in readers’ attention every few pages. Still, Noyes’s thoroughly researched account, with archival photos and myriad quotes from Bly’s own work, offers a well-rounded look at a self-possessed women who was nothing if not resilient. Ages 10–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/23/2015
Release date: 02/23/2016
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-14-750874-4
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