Hillary Rodham Clinton: What Happened
A Code Like A Girl Book Review
This book is the third in the series of 10 feminist books I am reading and reviewing this year. I ask myself the same questions each time to give each review structure and to force myself to think of the answers for each book.
With this book, I feel I need to give you the context in which I am reading it. First of all I am Canadian and a Liberal Canadian at that. I was rooting for Hillary from the north side of the border. The thought of having Donald Trump for president terrified me. As a feminist, I dearly wanted to see the glass ceiling break at the highest level in the USA. I strongly believe in the power of role models, and I knew it would have profound impacts for both girls and boys growing up in a world where having a woman in one of the most powerful positions in the world would become their normal. It would be a fact, not a dream.
I am sure you can imagine how I felt on November 9th, when I woke up to a world in which Trump would be president. At first I just cried. I felt numb. I couldn’t believe it actually happened. The worst happened. As the day went on and I saw the reactions on Facebook, in the office, with my friends, I could see that I was not the only one in shock and disbelief. With that revelation, I knew that what I had started with Code Like A Girl would be more important than ever and I wrote this:
I had to make sure that my readers, friends, and family knew that I would not back down, that this was going to make me louder than ever before. I have been doing my best at just that everyday since then.
However, when Hillary’s Book came out I didn’t want to read it. I didn’t think I could relive it. I thought, what could she say to make it better. It was like a death to me. Talking about it couldn’t bring the person back and couldn’t change the election. So I just wanted to focus on the future. I didn’t want to dig into why she didn’t win, I just wanted to focus on what I could do going forward.
But when I decided to read 10 feminist books this year, I couldn’t possibly leave out her book. So with dread I put a hold on it from the library. I felt like I was jumping off a cliff into the big unknown the day I started listening and I am really glad I did.
How did you read this book?
Audiobook, mostly in 25 minute chunks while driving back and forth between work and home. I got to hear this book in Hillary’s own voice. I was able to hear the emotion behind the text and could tell what she felt most passionately about by the way she narrated the book. I felt like I was sitting with her in the car and she was just laying out there what happened. I could hear the disappointment and frustration in not only losing, but losing to Donald Trump.
What was your favorite quote/passage?
“While we are defining things, let’s take a moment for feminism. The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis on the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Not domination, not oppression, equality. Or as the English writer and philosopher, Mary Wolstencraft, put it 225 years ago. I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves.”
What is the most surprising part of the book? Why?
I am most surprised by how many times I cried and what I cried about in this book. I cried about her account of losing. I cried at her stories about families who were struggling getting affordable health care and how she was going to help. This made me so grateful for my Canadian Health care system (even if it does sometimes take forever to get treatment to non-life threatening medical issues). I want my neighbours to the south to have the same access to care that I have without bankrupting them.
I cried when she spoke about the days, weeks, and months after the election. I cried about her white suffragette suit that had to stay in the closet on inauguration day. I can only imagine what that kind of disappointment would have felt like.
I cried when she spoke about meeting the mothers and fathers of children lost to gun violence. This was especially sad since only months ago there was another mass shooting in Florida. This is a very complex issue in the USA. I can’t pretend to fully understand it, but I do believe she would have had a positive impact. I know she would have tried. I know she wouldn’t have suggested that every teacher have a gun.
What did you learn about yourself by reading this book?
I learned that I am still deeply saddened by her loss. Not just because I wanted her to lead, but because of what was lost when Trump won. I had been so excited for the progress we would have achieved by having not just her lead specifically, but a woman lead.
It was very obvious to me that I was unhappy about Trump winning and I thought I had worked through it. But reading this book took me back to the days and weeks right after the election where I felt numb and sad. I found the more I listened, the sadder and angrier I became. That said, it was important for me to read this. It gave me a sense of closure around the event itself. It also gave me fuel to keep my fire burning to do my best to affect positive change!
What is the one thing you want everyone to know about this book?
As a feminist this is a hard book to listen to and get through. But it is also one of the most important books you can read in our generation. She navigated one of the most sexist and misogynistic political climates in recent history to win the popular vote. She figured out how to counteract the negativity, but she made mistakes. Mistakes that we all can learn from to help us succeed at breaking more and more glass ceilings in every industry.
I highly recommend listening to the audio book narrated by Hillary for a more personal and intimate experience of the book.
What part of the book made you most uncomfortable?
At times it was hard to continue listening to this book. Many parts of it made me sad, frustrated, and angry. Part of that is because I want the outcome to change. I wanted to listen to the book, and at the end find out that this was all a joke and she actually became president. I wanted the Hollywood happy ending. Knowing that I couldn’t have it, made it hard to keep listening.
If you met the author what would you ask her?
I wouldn’t ask her anything. I would give her a huge hug and tell her how fiercely proud I am of her. Of what she tried to accomplish in the face of appalling misogyny and sexism. I don’t have to agree with all her politics to acknowledge the impact she has had on a generation of girls and women. More women will try because she did. More girls will dream of being president, because she dared to dream. I would thank her for that.
What is the major takeaway(s) you got from the book?
This is not the end of the war. We lost a battle, but now we know more about how our opponents operate. We would be remiss not to study this loss closely to ensure we can combat similar attacks in the future. We are more united against misogyny, sexism, and harassment than ever before. Because of this loss, Women’s March, the many organizations like our, and the #metoo movement change is happening and it is only the beginning.