cover image Use the Power You Have: A Brown Woman’s Guide to Politics and Political Change

Use the Power You Have: A Brown Woman’s Guide to Politics and Political Change

Pramila Jayapal. New Press, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-62097-143-7

Democratic congresswoman Jayapal (Pilgrimage) recounts her path to the House of Representatives and calls on “women, immigrants, people of color, and allies of all stripes” to become “agents of change” in this polished yet heartfelt account. Born in India and raised mostly in Indonesia, Jayapal attended college in the U.S. and briefly sold cardiac defibrillators before joining a Seattle healthcare nonprofit. Disturbed by the backlash against South Asians following 9/11, Jayapal led the effort to have Washington State declared a “Hate Free Zone,” and drew attention to the targeting of Somali-American groceries and other Muslim-owned businesses by the Bush administration. Elected to Congress in 2016, she has championed the $15 minimum wage, immigrant rights, and Medicare for All. Jayapal interweaves blow-by-blow accounts of legislative achievements and setbacks with more personal matters, such as the difficult birth of her first child, Janak, and the moment Janak came out as gender nonconforming. The afterword offers advice for fellow “brown” women and their allies on how to “bend the power structures to their needs.” Though she occasionally lapses into self-congratulation and PR-speak, Jayapal is genuinely captivating when writing about her determination to fight for the poor and oppressed. This inspirational chronicle frequently rises above the pitfalls of political memoir. Agent: Sandra Dijkstra, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. (June)