Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century by Sue Macy

Motor GirlsNational Geographic, 2017

Beyond the occasional “Hey look at that cool old car!” I never thought much about the history of cars—that is until I received a review copy of Motor Girls. This gorgeous book about the rise of the automobile industry and its relation to women and women’s rights is filled with primary source material, fabulous period photographs and advertisements, and information that makes a long ago blossoming of technology relevant to today.

Motor Girls relates the way women took to driving from the very first, starting with socialites and actresses and moving on into the middle class. Cars allowed women to get out of the home more, and so women’s driving was controversial. Roads were rough and trips of any great length required skills at tire changing and repairs—skills many women proved themselves amply capable of. World War I allowed even more women to learn to drive as they supported the war effort, sometimes under dangerous conditions. In addition, public cross country drives became an important part of the women’s suffrage movement.

Interesting facts, anecdotes, and historical figures abound in this book. Sidebars include manners for motorists, fashion tips, race accounts, and many mini biographies.

An utterly delightful read, Motor Girls not only contains interesting historical content, but a message of women’s resistance that is very relevant today. Young readers may easily dip into sections or sidebars or read cover to cover. I’d recommend this for classroom, school, and home libraries, and for anyone who needs a feminist boost.

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Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling

Harcourt, 2008

Anyone knows that if you have eyes of different colors you are graced, possessed of some superhuman skill. Katsa hates that she’s marked, but she hates more that her grace is a killing grace, one she’s been forced to use in the service of the king. She’s trained hard since her grace was revealed, so she needs fear no one save herself. Unfortunately, her reputation is known throughout the seven kingdoms, so that there is nowhere she can go where her differently colored eyes do not evoke fear in those around her. But when she encounters a graceling prince, one who regards her eyes with his own mismatched eyes and does not fear, Katsa’s outlook on life begins to change.

This is a fantasy and a romance and a feminist tale. I loved the story and the way the characters debated expectations and choice. The feminist slant was welcome and well done, I think. Katsa’s a terribly strong character, though not one who didn’t show any weakness. The main characters behaved with integrity in a feudal system that did not value it. The fantasy setting, romance, and action are sure to draw readers in. I passed the book straight to my teenaged daughter and will eagerly seek out the sequels.