Book Review: The Female Persuasion

A feminist title for a not so feminist story

The Female PersuasionFiction

The Female Persuasion

By Meg Woltzer

454 pp. Riverhead Books. $28.

Despite what the title might lead you to believe, this book wasn’t preachy. Yes, it centers around a few feminist characters, but the story is about their lives and how their ideals impact the decisions they make.


The book follows Greer Kadetsky and her network of friends. Told from different perspectives, it occasionally dips into the past to give insight into what shaped their current way of dealing with things.

Greer and high school sweetheart Cory end up at separate colleges where their lives start to slowly veer in different directions. At first, it’s the distance, and then it’s the moments made with other people that start to shape their lives.

It starts with Greer going to a talk given by Faith Frank, a feminist icon, with her college friend Zee. This talk shapes Greer’s future. From this moment on, she wants to make a difference in women’s lives. This devotion to Faith, leads her down a path that is both fulfilling and eye opening.

We also see Faith’s past. How she came to be the the icon she’s known for at the beginning of the story and how this put her on the path for where she ends up. This reminds me of the photos with the grandmother, mother and daughter. You see how Faith’s past influenced her decisions that in turn influence Greer’s.

While Greer’s career is growing, Cory suffers a tragedy that brings him to rock bottom. A lot of what happens to Cory is beyond his control, and what little control he has, he doesn’t use.

The book explores not only ideals and choices shaping our lives, but also the influence of others on those choices.

My opinion

This is why I joined a book club, to read books I wouldn’t usually pick up on my own. Although, I can’t say this was my favorite book, at times I forced myself to read so I’d finish for our next meeting, and I ended up skimming the last two chapters, I do think it broadened my mind.

The story is vividly written. The characters are believable. If you take the time to look at the choices that shaped the characters, it’s an interesting read. There are several moments that could have been avoided and if they had been, different outcomes would have impacted the characters lives.

It makes me wonder, what small decisions shaped my life.


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