The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Overview: The Female Persuasion opens in 2006, when our protagonist, shy and mild-mannered Greer, has just started her freshman year at the fictitious Ryland College (on full-academic scholarship, due to her pothead parents’ inability to complete financial aid forms, forcing her to surrender her invitation to Yale). Her first week there, her new friend Zee takes her to a party, where Greer gets groped by a common d-bag frat star, a moment which can only be compared to the #MeToo phenomenon (years before its inception). This, in addition to attending a life-changing lecture by the influential world-renowned feminist Faith Frank, ignites Greer’s interest in pursuing a career and future in feminist activism...
This opening chapter sets the tone for the entire book; through the ups & downs of Greer’s relationship with her parents and with Cory, her high school boyfriend, it is this theme in which she finds her purpose. A novel about all types of relationships—romantic, platonic, parental—the reader is taken on a journey in which he/she must be prepared to truly feel an entire spectrum of emotions.
Thoughts: This novel was chosen by Barnes and Noble as the inaugural book club selection—taking place TUESDAY NIGHT!! (May 2nd at 6pm) at B&N’s all over the country. This novel was chosen by me because I liked the cover. Given the publicity this book has received, I had very high expectations: and I am excited to report that the book lived up to the buzz. It’s one of those that you don’t anticipate being a page-turner at the very beginning, and then finish it in two sittings (yes, I’m a loser). My #NovelThoughts:
Recommendation: Read it. Whether you’re a man or woman, gay or straight, or a point somewhere in the middle you can’t quite put your finger on… there is something in this book for you. I have titled my post with this antiquated mantra because what can be taken from this book is entirely up to each individual reader’s interpretation. I personally was engrossed in the Greer/Cory narrative (in addition to that of another character who will remain unnamed out of respectful bereavement), but found myself skimming through much of Zee’s storyline. However, a friend of mine said she took the most from Faith’s story of her upbringing & uprising, going to show that “one man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure” (I’m done with the clichéd ancient pieces of wisdom now, promise!).
I used to be one of those girls that’d proudly proclaim “I’m not a feminist, but…” partially to distance myself from the radical feminist stereotype (hairy armpits and castrators of all men!), but also—and I’m reluctant to say—as an attempt to make myself more appealing to boys…because of course, nothing conveys the message “I am deserving of a loving and mutually respectful relationship” quite as effectively as degrading yourself and your entire gender does!
The Female Persuasion was written with girls like me in mind. The approach that Ms. Wolitzer takes in addressing some difficult and controversial topics is so elegantly executed that you don’t always know when she’s doing it. Prepare to laugh, cry (and I NEVER cry), and maybe, just maybe, capture a new unique perspective on a topic you swore was unchangeably engrained in you.