The American Association of University Women's

¡Adelante! Books of the Month 2016 - 2017

Personal growth and branch change go hand in hand. That's the idea behind the ¡Adelante! Book of the Month Club, a component of AAUW's diversity outreach program.

Book clubs are a fun, social way to open a dialogue on women, diversity, and change. Many AAUW members share a love of reading, and that love, partnered with a desire to seek out books written from diverse perspectives, launched a new component of AAUW's diversity outreach program in 1996 - AAUW's ¡Adelante! Book of the Month Club.

Since then, AAUW members have enjoyed exploring new ideas and perspectives through monthly discussions, both in person and through e-mail. ¡Adelante! book groups meet in book stores, libraries, other public venues, and online, gathering both members and nonmembers to talk about issues of social justice based on the month's selection.

We hear about the gender gap all the time — in pay, in math and science fields, in leadership. But one gender gap we don’t hear about as often is the literary gender gap. Female authors are much less likely than male authors to have their books reviewed in major publications like the New York Times and Harper’s Magazine.

In 2014, 41 percent of books reviewed by the New York Times were by women; for Harper’s Magazine, it was 28 percent. And the numbers are even worse for women of color: 15 percent for the New York Times and 7 percent for Harper’s Magazine. That’s why we created the ¡Adelante! Book of the Month Club: to spotlight engrossing stories and writing by women from all backgrounds. We also connect our members to some of the authors we feature through web discussions.

September 2016 - National Hispanic Heritage Month

The Ones I Bring with Me

By Carol Spaulding-Kruse and Kelsey Lepperd

This bilingual English and Spanish book depicts young Latinas growing up in Iowa, with an emphasis on the importance of education and on overcoming barriers that keep Latinas from completing school. The Ones I Bring with Me shows the character and determination of students and their young adult mentors who tell about their struggles with identity and experiences as people of color. Foreword by Maria Hinojosa, award-winning journalist and the author and executive producer of Latino USA on NPR, a radio show devoted to Latino issues.

October 2016 - National Disability Employment Awareness Month

What Is Visible: A Novel

By Kimberly Elkins

A vividly original novel based on the true story of Laura Bridgman, a woman who blazed the trail for women with disabilities. At age two, Bridgman lost four of her five senses to scarlet fever. By age 20, she was considered the 19th century’s second most famous woman, having charmed the world with her accomplishments and brilliance. Deeply enthralling and rich with lyricism, What Is Visible chronicles what Bridgman’s career meant in the context of the great social, philosophical, theological, and educational changes that rocked Victorian America.

November 2016 - Native American Heritage Month

The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America

By Sarah Deer

Violence against Native American women is a historical and political problem bounded by oppression and colonial violence. This book engages with the problem head-on — and with ending it. Sarah Deer provides a clear historical overview of rape and sex trafficking in North America, paying particular attention to the gendered legacy of colonialism of tribal nations. In a damning critique of federal law that has accommodated rape by destroying tribal legal systems, Deer describes how tribal self-determination efforts of the 21st century can be leveraged to eradicate violence against women. Bridging the gap between Indian law and feminist thinking and grounded in historical, cultural, and legal realities — both Native and non-Native — these essays point to the possibility of actual and positive change in a world where Native women are systematically undervalued and unprotected.

December 2016

The Poisoned Table

By Diane Michael Cantor, AAUW national member

The Poisoned Table portrays a passionate rivalry between fictional actress Isabel Graves and real-life Shakespearian sensation Frances Anne “Fanny” Kemble. A tale of ambition, romance, and betrayal, the novel traces their unconnected adventures and acting careers in the Old and New Worlds, as well as their introduction to the horrors of American slavery and to romance with Pierce Butler, one of the wealthiest men in the United States. Kemble, an ardent abolitionist, falls in love with and marries Butler before she discovers his wealth is solely from slave labor. Within the novel is a play by Graves’ lover. Set on a slave plantation, it portrays a dinner at the master’s table and the poisonous conditions that produce its bounty, resulting in an attempted murder. In the controversy following the play’s opening night, Kemble and Graves are again at odds, their rivalry continuing as they change places on the stages of theater and of life.

January 2017 - National Mentoring Month

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

By Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy has galvanized tens of millions of viewers around the world with her TED Talk about “power poses.” Now she presents the enthralling science underlying these and other fascinating body-mind effects and teaches us how to use simple techniques to liberate ourselves from fear in high-pressure moments, perform at our best, and connect with and empower others to do the same. As Cuddy’s book reveals, we don’t need to embark on a grand spiritual quest or complete an inner transformation. Instead, we need to nudge ourselves — moment by moment — by tweaking our body language, behavior, and mindset in our daily lives.

February 2017 - Black History Month

Florynce “Flo” Kennedy: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical

By Sherie M. Randolph, 2005–06 AAUW American Fellow

Often photographed in a cowboy hat with her middle finger defiantly in the air, Florynce “Flo” Kennedy was a vibrant leader of the Black Power and feminist movements. In the first biography of Kennedy, Sherie M. Randolph traces the life and political influence of this bold and controversial radical activist. Rather than reacting to the predominantly white feminist movement, Kennedy brought the lessons of Black Power to white feminism. Randolph narrates Kennedy’s progressive upbringing, her path-breaking graduation from Columbia University’s law school, and her long career as a media-savvy activist, showing how Kennedy rose to founding roles in organizations such as the National Black Feminist Organization and the National Organization for Women. Using an extensive and previously uncollected archive, Randolph demonstrates profound connections within the histories of the new left, civil rights, Black Power, and feminism, showing that black feminism was pivotal in shaping postwar U.S. liberation movements.

March 2017 - Women’s History Month

Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World

By Linda Hirshman

The relationship between Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Republican and Democrat, Christian and Jew, western rancher’s daughter and Brooklyn girl — transcends party, religion, region, and culture. Strengthened by each other’s presence, these groundbreaking judges, the first and second to serve on the highest court in the land, have transformed the United States itself, making it a more equal place for all women. Linda Hirshman’s dual biography combines legal detail with warm personal anecdotes that bring these very different women into focus as never before. Meticulously researched and compellingly told, it is an authoritative account of our changing law and culture and a moving story of a remarkable friendship.

April 2017 - Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The Sacrifice

By Joyce Carol Oates

When a 14-year-old girl is the alleged victim of a terrible act of racial violence, the incident shocks and galvanizes her community, exacerbating the racial tension that has been simmering in this New Jersey town for decades. Unfolding in a succession of multiracial voices, in a community transfixed by this alleged crime and the spectacle unfolding around it, this profound novel exposes what — and who — the “sacrifice” actually is and what consequences these events hold for us all. Oates offers a sympathetic portrait of the young girl and her mother and challenges our expectations and beliefs about our society, our biases, and ourselves. As the chorus of its voices — from the police to the media to the victim and her family — reaches a crescendo, The Sacrifice offers a shocking new understanding of power and oppression, innocence and guilt, truth and sensationalism, justice and retribution.

May 2017 - Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

Re Jane

By Patricia Park, 2013–14 AAUW American Fellow

For Jane Re, a half-Korean, half-American orphan, the place she’s wanted to escape her whole life is Flushing, Queens. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Re toils — unappreciated — in her strict uncle’s grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi. Desperate for a new life, she becomes the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops and 19th-century novels, Re is the recipient of Beth Mazer’s feminist lectures and Ed Farley’s very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Re and Farley’s blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York behind. Reconnecting with family and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Re begins to wonder if Farley is the man for her. Re returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is.

June 2017 - LGBT Pride Month

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family

By Amy Ellis Nutt

When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But it wasn’t long before they noticed a marked difference between Jonas and his brother, Wyatt. Jonas preferred sports and trucks and many of the things little boys were “supposed” to like. Wyatt liked princess dolls, dress-up, and playing Little Mermaid. By the time the twins were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, accept and embrace Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and undergo an emotionally wrenching transformation of their own that would change their lives forever. Becoming Nicole chronicles a journey that could have destroyed a family but instead brought it closer together.

July 2017


By Lily King

English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying a tribe on the Sepik River in the territory of New Guinea with little success. Increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when he encounters the famous and controversial Nell Stone and her wry, mercurial husband, Fen. Bankson is enthralled by the magnetic couple, whose eager attentions pull him back from the brink of despair. Ultimately, the three young, gifted anthropologists find themselves caught in a love triangle that threatens their bonds, careers, and lives. Set between World War I and World War II and inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is an enthralling story of passion, possession, exploration, and sacrifice.

August 2017

Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs. Adams

By Margery M. Heffron

Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, wife and political partner of John Quincy Adams, became one of the most famous women in the United States when her husband assumed office as the sixth president in 1825. Shrewd, intellectual, and articulate, she was close to the center of U.S. power over many decades, and extensive archives reveal her as an unparalleled observer of the politics, personalities, and issues of her day. Louisa left behind a trove of journals, essays, letters, and other writings, yet no biographer has mined these riches until now. Margery M. Heffron brings Louisa out of the shadows to offer the first full and nuanced portrait of an extraordinary first lady. Louisa’s sharp insights as a tireless recorder provide a fresh view of early American democratic society, presidential politics and elections, and — indeed — every important political and social issue of her time.

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