About a month ago, I decided to pick up “The Female Persuasion” by Meg Wolitzer while waiting for a coffee. The title intrigued me, and I was just hoping for a quick read–something to do when I finally reach that free space in my tight student schedule. This fictional narrative houses a vast amount of information and lessons in between its artful covers, and kept me wondering, what could possibly happen next? 464 pages later, I’m absolutely thrilled that I gave this book a chance.
The novel begins by introducing the main character: Greer Kadetsky. Greer is an ambitious college freshman who spends her free time reading and studying. She and her boyfriend, Cory Pinto, decided on different colleges and she just can’t seem to adjust to her new life. Although it proves difficult, these awkward feelings quickly fade when she meets Zee Eisenstat. Zee is the complete opposite of Greer, and immediately pushes Greer to use her voice. She is a political enthusiast and is a dedicated advocate for women and the LGBTQ+ community. Together, they confront many problems that lie in the midst of college life, focusing heavily on sexual assault.
At one point, Zee drags Greer to a college event to hear a famous feminist speak. The woman, Faith Frank, takes a liking to Greer and slips her a business card. Greer occasionally comes into contact with Faith for the rest of her college career until at last, she graduates. Faith immediately enters her life after this, offering Greer a position with her new feminist foundation, Loci. The two work together and Faith watches as Greer becomes more confident and independent under her mentorship.
In the midst of their busy new lives, Greer and Cory face many issues and eventually have to go separate ways. Cory is forced to leave a promising internship and move back home with his mother, where he spends all of his time cleaning and taking care of her. Wolitzer uses Cory’s sacrifice as a way to combat the idea of gender roles, and casts the idea of “manhood” in a new light.
Eventually, the novel switches viewpoints, allowing us to see inside Faith’s past and Zee’s future—both equally as interesting. The reader is able to run through journeys of childbirth, teaching, affairs, disasters and more. Many social issues are tackled with valuable insights into everyday situations that deserve our attention. This all provides satisfying substance as readers are led to the end of the novel, where many undesirable actions are revealed and relationships are tested.
While flipping through these pages, I found myself marking quote after quote with sticky notes. Not only that, but I began writing down the ones that really spoke to me (which was most of them). As a college student, I found many events to be very relatable and inspiring. Not to mention, I also had many instances where I forgot that Faith wasn’t actually my mentor. This book encourages self expression and confidence, which are things that we all deserve. It bypasses any stereotypes and is an amazing read for those of all genders and ages. I will most definitely be recommending this book for years to come. That includes right now, so if you’re reading this, stop by Thomas Library and pick it up.