My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My favorite books are those that surprise me and Gloria Steinem's MY LIFE ON THE ROAD was so much more than I expected.
THE STORY: Because I live near Clark Lake (Michigan) where Gloria Steinem's father had a dance pavilion when she was growing up, I was particularly interested in what she might write about that time. The opening chapter, however, talked about her experiences in Sturgis, South Dakota, where motorcyclists from all over rally the first full week in August. My husband and I were there many years ago and Steinem's comments echoed our experiences. After that I was in thrall. (And yes, she did write about Clark Lake.)
Although this is the first time I have read a book by Steinem, her life's work has been a road map for me. When I was a young mother, a friend asked me to watch her children while she traveled to another state where she could get an abortion. She and her husband were planning to divorce. My reward? A subscription to Ms. Magazine, which I read for years.
The most encouraging thing Steinem shared was the need to travel or at least finding different ways to view one's world. Her four stated purposes were to share the least visible parts of her life; what it was like traveling America; sharing the stories she heard on her travels; and to open up the road to women.
The surprise is that Steinem never had a driver's license. Early experiences with group traveling in India influenced her to travel in a way that allowed her to see a whole world of lives most of us never encounter. For example, I found the descriptions of truck stops fascinating. But the best parts dealt with Native Americans and their paradigm of human organization as the circle and not the pyramid hierarchy that we have come to embrace.
WHAT I THOUGHT: Episodic and impressionistic, reading My Life on the Road is like spending time with an old friend who has had an incredible life and is willing to share her wisdom. My only regret is that I did not read the wonderful footnotes as I went along. I read them afterwards and learned much more. (Have you ever heard of Walter Ashby Plecker? His beliefs affected many for years and still reverberate.)
One might assume that Gloria Steinem would be angry. So much of the work that was undertaken in her lifetime has been rolled back, but her book is encouraging not discouraging. There is more work to do. And lest we think there are not consequences, she does point out why and how we have ended up in certain places and how important it is to be involved in creating the world in which we want to live. She even gives us hints as to how we might proceed. One of my favorite quotes ". . .people in the same room understand and empathize with each other in a way that isn't possible on the page or screen."
Gloria Steinem pays tribute throughout to her mentors and those who shared their lives with her.The ending of the book is particularly touching.
FIRST SENTENCE: "I board a plane for Rapid City, South Dakota, and see a lot of people in black leather, chains and tattoos."
BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended.Worth reading and re-reading.
DISCLAIMER: Invited by NetGalley to request and receive this title for an honest review.
Title: My Life on the Road
Author: Gloria Steinem
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Biography
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 304 pages
Copyright: October 27, 2015
Gloria Marie Steinem is an American feminist, journalist, and social and political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader and spokeswoman for the feminist movement in the late 1960s and early 70s. (from Wikipedia)