Lee Ann Marino’s review of Half The Sky

half_skyHalf The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide

By: Nicholas D. Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn

 

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307387097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307387097
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches

 

As a women’s rights advocate, I took particular interest in Half The Sky because it looks at the life and conditions of women worldwide.  It has been critically acclaimed and even turned into a series transcending different media.  Because it was such a sweeping success, I was particularly interested in the solutions it would offer for the circumstances women live under.

The book is successful in presenting the conditions that women live under worldwide.  The stories alert and awaken the reader to the fact that many women still live in conditions of prostitution, death in childbirth, forced bodily mutilations, and abuse at the hands of unjust societies.  It also shows what some very special and unique women and men in our world today are doing to step up and offer assistance to women worldwide.

The stories are good; the awareness is good; the basic idea of the book is good. My major gripe with the book is that while it does beautifully cause us to be aware of what is going on, it doesn’t offer solutions to the problems.  The reason for this is, most likely, very simple: most of the situations that exist don’t have simple solutions, but at the same time, I don’t feel like the book gave us much hope for being able to offer help or assistance ourselves.  There was a long chapter toward the end of the book that detailed different ways to be involved, but most of those solutions involved governmental or political activism, which as a Christian, I do not believe is the solution to such problems.  There were also only limited examples of faith-based work in the book, and almost no faith-based programs that they recommended for overseas assistance or activism.  While I am very well aware that many faith-based programs often contribute to traditional problems, this is not always the case, and I believe it is safe to say that political activisms have certainly proven that they are not the answer, and tend to make the answer worse, in many instances, because they don’t meet the people where they are.  As the book does prove that individual interest in the problem and person-to-person activism is definitely the best course of action, it doesn’t tell us how we can take that kind of action ourselves.

The book is reasonably well-written (I did find a few typos), although I would say the presentation of the stories is a bit dry, at times.  It reads much like a journalist would write, and given some of the very personal and intense stories presented, I would have preferred a softer input at points within its presentation.  I also would have preferred the book’s text font to be a bit larger, as it contributed to an intimidating feeling in the text.  Overall, I give the book 4 stars. I think even though it doesn’t really offer an answer, it definitely gets us thinking about it and helps us to want to care about women worldwide besides ourselves.

 

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