Enica/ March 16, 2018/ Walker's Bookshelf

One of my favorite authors, Octavia Butler, once wrote, “In order to rise from its own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn.” It’s a quote about resilience and empowerment. So here are some of the biographies of women who, like a Phoenix, rose to shine like stars.

THE QUEEN OF HEARTBREAK TRAIL : THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HARRIET SMITH PULLEN PIONEERING WOMAN by Eleanor Phillips Brackbill **Westbrook author**

The story of Harriet Smith Pullen’s early life, from her childhood journeys by covered wagon to her family’s subsistence in sod houses on the Dakota prairie where they survived grasshopper plagues, floods, fires, blizzards, and droughts is a narrative of American migration and adventure that still resonates today. But there is much more to the legendary woman’s life, revealed here for the first time by Eleanor Phillips Brackbill, her great-granddaughter, who has traveled the path of her ancestor, delving into unpublished material, as well as sharing family stories in this American story that will capture the imagination of a new generation (publisher’s description).

SHIRLEY JACKSON : A RATHER HAUNTED LIFE by Ruth Franklin

Reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the American author, demonstrating how her unique contribution to the Gothic genre came from a focus on domestic horror drawn from an era hostile to women.

LOUISA : THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF MRS. ADAMS by Louisa Thomas

An intimate portrait of the British-born wife of John Quincy Adams details her significantly different upbringing from her husband, their tempestuous marriage, their wide range of residences and her efforts to forge her own sense of self.

MADAME PRESIDENT : THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF by Helene Cooper

When Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the 2005 Liberian presidential election, she demolished a barrier few thought possible, obliterating centuries of patriarchal rule to become the first female elected head of state in Africa’s history. Madame President is the inspiring, often heartbreaking story of Sirleaf’s evolution from an ordinary Liberian mother of four boys to international banking executive, from a victim of domestic violence to a political icon, from a post-war president to a Nobel Peace Prize winner (publisher description).

THE UNWOMANLY FACE OF WAR : AN ORAL HISTORY OF WOMEN IN WORLD WAR II by Svetlana Alexievich

This absorbing oral history, a Nobel Prize-winning author compiles firsthand reports of Russian women in military service during World War II. Many were reluctant to discuss their experiences; while they often performed similar duties as men (for example, as snipers or tank drivers) their perceptions and experiences differed significantly. Weaving their accounts into a vivid tapestry, The Unwomanly Face of War spotlights previously unnoticed ordeals and historical achievements. — Description by Katherine Bradley Johnson (from NoveList Plus).

LAST GIRL BEFORE FREEWAY : THE LIFE, LOVES, LOSSES, AND LIBERATION OF JOAN RIVERS by Leslie Bennetts

A portrait of the influential comedienne explores her enduring cultural legacy, discussing subjects ranging from her husband’s suicide and her feud with Johnny Carson to her numerous cosmetic surgeries and her controversial death in 2014.

 

ELEANOR AND HICK : THE LOVE AFFAIR THAT SHAPED A FIRST LADY by Susan Quinn

A warm, intimate account of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok—a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women’s lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history (publisher description).

THE LAST GIRL : MY STORY OF CAPTIVITY, AND MY FIGHT AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE by Nadia Murad

A human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee traces the harrowing and ultimately inspiring story of her captivity by the Islamic State, describing how militants massacred the people of her Iraqi farming village, killing most of her family members and forcing her into prostitution before she escaped and became an advocate for human rights.

BLACK LOTUS : A WOMAN’S SEARCH FOR RACIAL IDENTITY by Sil Lai Abrams

Sil Lai Abrams always knew she was different, with darker skin and curlier hair than her siblings. But when the man who she thought was her dad told her the truth–that her father was actually black–her whole world was turned upside down. Raised primarily in the Caucasian community of Winter Park, Florida, Abrams was forced to re-examine who she really was and struggle with her Caucasian, African American, and Chinese identities. In her remarkable memoir, she shares this journey and how it speaks to a larger question: Why does race matter?

 

RUSSIAN TATTOO by Elena Gorokhova

After she left the Iron Curtain and her mother for a new life in America, Elena Gorokhova, had to adjust to the life of an immigrant, making mistakes and adapting to her new surroundings.

BOUND FOR THE PROMISED LAND : HARRIET TUBMAN PORTRAIT OF AN AMERICAN MIND by Kate Clifford Larson

Draws on extensive genealogical resources and new archives and materials to capture Harriet Tubman’s complex life and personality, revealing her personal life, accomplishments, and influence.

THE HOME THAT WAS OUR COUNTRY : A MEMOIR OF SYRIA by Alia Malek

In The Home that Was My Country, Syrian-American journalist Alia Malek chronicles her return to her family home in Damascus and the history of the Jabban apartment building. Here, generations of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Armenians lived, worked, loved, and suffered in close quarters. In telling the story of her family over the course of the last century, Alia brings to light the triumphs and failures that have led Syria to where it is today.

**Descriptions from NoveList Plus, unless otherwise specified.**

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