cover image Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes

Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes

Elizabeth Lesser. Harper Wave, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-288718-4

Omega Institute cofounder Lesser (Marrow) demonstrates how myth, religion, and history minimize women’s voices and values in this lucid and ultimately optimistic account. Criticizing traditional, male-dominated lists of great books and histories that glorify war, Lesser suggests alternative stories of women who “meet adversity with love,” such as Malala Yousafzai, Antoinette Tuff, and Tammy Duckworth. She advocates “innervism” as a corollary to feminist activism, encouraging women to focus on looking at “our blind spots, our projections, our hypocrisies,” and offers detailed meditation exercises to help women learn how to “Do No Harm and Take No Shit” and find the courage to “give clear voice to... healthy anger.” Citing her work helping 9/11 first responders to overcome their “strong and silent” conditioning and share their feelings, Lesser ties the cultural devaluing of women with the discrediting of feminine-coded values like empathy, sharing, and care, and argues that leaning into these values would improve the world for men and women alike. Emphasizing individual over community work, Lesser does not address whether it’s necessary to build spaces in which women can be heard, and her guidance on how women can tell their own stories is minimal. Still, readers will find this lucid and detailed presentation of feminist ideas motivating. Agent: Henry Dunow. (Sept.)