What Every Girl Should Know: Margaret Sanger’s Journey

J. Albert Mann. Atheneum, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5344-1932-2
Mann’s novel, based on the youth of women’s health activist Margaret Higgins Sanger, explores the seeming futility of being an ambitious girl born into poverty in the late 19th century. The novel opens in 1899, as 20-year-old Maggie rushes home from an unwanted teaching job in New Jersey to her dying mother in Corning, N.Y., and closes a year later, as Maggie defiantly cuts her hair and leaves home permanently. In between those events, the book focuses on the grim details of Maggie’s adolescence as one of 10 children of a consumptive Catholic mother and an outspoken, self-centered father who was an alcoholic and a socialist. Mann (Scar) convincingly depicts Maggie’s fervent emotions as she struggles to be a dutiful daughter and sibling while trying to hold on to her dream of being a doctor, rather than the expected future of becoming a wife, mother, and, possibly, teacher. Mann creates a strong feminist character in her fictional portrayal of Sanger, but readers will likely need the context provided in the appended historical note to understand the importance of Sanger’s early life in inspiring her lifelong fight for a woman’s right to make decisions for her own body. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 01/03/2019
Release date: 02/12/2019
Genre: Children's
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