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Book Review: Half The Sky

half the skyThe full title of the book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn is Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide. It is not an easy book to read. A really brief Half The Sky summary could simply read: wow, it’s bad out there. Be grateful that you’re not a woman in country a, b, c, d, and so on. Don’t move to those places.

I read the book after I was invited to participate in part of the Girl Effect Project. It really shook me. There are stories of atrocities that don’t even seem like they can be real. But that’s part of the problem, I suppose. It’s easier not to think about real-life horror stories than to engage with them and try to figure out if they can be changed, and if so, how.

For the author, the “how” in Half The Sky was the reason to write the book. Each chapter features the story of one woman, or several, who has overcome incredible oppression to rebound and dedicate their lives to helping other women as well. Then there are suggestions for “What You Can Do Right Now To Help.” I like that. Sometimes the only thing that seems to get people’s attention is if Brad Pitt or George Clooney wear a T shirt with a political slogan on it. A slogan is not a solution.

I don’t want to write much more about the book because it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and I’d prefer not to think about how awful and evil so much of the world is. But again, if everyone felt that way, nothing would ever get done.

I believe this book is a good start. The idea that empowering and educating women is the solution to many problems that seem unsolvable makes a lot of sense to me. I would love for everyone to read it and act on it in some way. But I had to take it in small chunks. As a friend put it, “That Half The Sky book isn’t very enjoyable, but I think it’s important.”

Any honest Half the Sky book review should make the reader aware that it’s not a book you read for fun.


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  • Laura Cococcia January 3, 2011, 5:13 am

    One of my faves – I got to see the authors speak in NYC twice. It’s great to see the energy they have around the experiences that are described in the story. Even made the facts and figure have a bit more meaning.