I’m going to start with the most astonishing thing I learned in this book:
Gloria Steinem doesn’t drive. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked at a New Yorker not driving, but one who’s managed to spend much of her life on the road? It’s pretty extraordinary.
Still, with that reveal out of the way, I can say it doesn’t slow down her pace or her insight one bit. In many ways, it seems to have added more. The second on what Steinem learned from taxi drivers or anyone else she got rides with is worth reading all by itself.
But the major element of this book that got me was her passion for how she spends her life. I could feel the pulsing current of feeling that takes her back out on the road over and over again. And in many ways, this was a much more relatable book than Kerouac’s On The Road for me, maybe because of the feminist element but I think also because Gloria Steinem’s travels are about connecting with people much more than running away.
Had 52 Books to Change Your Life still been in process, this book would have made the cut. The amount of dignity that Steinem brings to the topic of inequality, both in terms of race and gender- and class in many ways- is so uplifting. There is no flinching from the unfairness that she found, but she also focuses on what has happened to make things better.
If you’re feeling a little flattened by life, or like there isn’t anything you can do to make any difference, or that you just can’t take the pressure on you anymore, this book will help. For people who need support and have had to go it alone forever, this is a great book for you. The stories of women coming together and taking care of each other are priceless.
And it isn’t just serious. There are funny moments, too. And if you need a reason to take a trip, I dare you not to jump in the car after this one is over. Thankfully, I had a road trip planned already when I finished the book, but just writing about it now makes me want to pack up and go again.
I’m discussing this book in my book club next weekend, so I may have more thoughts to add then. Until then, let me know what you thought in the comments or on FB.