cover image Don’t Call Me Princess: Essays on Girls, Women, Sex, and Life

Don’t Call Me Princess: Essays on Girls, Women, Sex, and Life

Peggy Orenstein. Harper, $16.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-268890-3

Drawn from over three decades of work, this middling collection of essays by Orenstein (Girls & Sex) explores many of the same topics as her previous books: parenthood, cancer, infertility, and body image. Orenstein is at her best and most personal when she writes about breast cancer: she recounts her own diagnosis and its effect on her fertility, and reflects on the “pink ribbon culture” and how increased attention on breast cancer and early screening may do more harm than good. The collection also includes a handful of profiles of successful women artists and scientists, including biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, graphic novelist Phoebe Gloeckner, and Guardian columnist Caitlin Moran. In a posthumous profile of Atsuko Chiba, published in 1989, Orenstein vividly captures the Japanese journalist’s strong personality and relentless writing career without having ever met her. Chiba, however, is the only woman of color profiled in the book (though Orenstein does write about her own teenage daughter, Daisy, who is biracial). While Orenstein thoughtfully and incisively captures the perspectives of the people she writes about, those perspectives appear too similar to each other when presented in collected form; notably missing are lower-income women, black women, and trans women. Nonetheless, Orenstein is an enduring and important voice in the feminist choir, and the book will be welcomed by her longtime fans. (Feb.)