In some ways, the books I read made me the person I am. They were probably more influential than my textbooks or my teachers…or even my parents.
Lucinda Rosenfeld's CLASS features New York, Karen Kipple as she struggles to balance the demands of motherhood and career, always convinced that she was shortchanging one or the other.
Married for ten years and for the last five Karen had been the director of development for a small non-profit devoted to tackling childhood hunger in the US. For the past two years, she had been trying to write an oped which she hoped one day to publish in a major newspaper, about the relationship between nutrition and school readiness.
Matt, her husband is also a career activist in the nonprofit sector and she is always worried about Ruby, her eight-year-old daughter’s education. She encourages her former lawyer husband to quit his job and work with low-income people to assist their housing needs.
Karen had enrolled her daughter at Betts, aware that it lacked the reputation for academic excellence of other schools nearby, but Ruby would be exposed to children who were less privileged than herself. Even though the white population of the school hovered around 25%. Being in the minority in what she had chosen. However, was he sacrificing her education? Diversity or inferior education?
She had always aspired to a life of making a difference and helping those less fortunate than herself. She tried to live in accordance with the politics and principals, which of course included the notion that public education was a force for good and that without racially and economically integrated school, an equal opportunity couldn’t exist.
Ruby was smart and a voracious reading and life should be good. Karen, an advocate for non-food additives and chemicals as well as diversity. She has a nice condo, hubby, and daughter, Karen’s life seemed to be good in New York; however, she is unhappy.
“Karen’s complex and contradictory relationship to eating had also grown more in the last few years, along with weight, teeth, and marriage—somehow become a dividing line between the social classes with the Earth Day — esque ideals of the 1960s having acquired snob appeal, and the well-off and well-educated increasingly buying “natural” and “fresh” and casting aspersions on those who didn’t.”
Then when a classmate of Ruby’s transfers out of Betts to a more privileged school of white students, all of Karen’s earlier thoughts and commitments, quickly vanished. Her husband wants a divorce because she enrolled Ruby in a new school without telling him.
Following the lead, she moves Ruby and then begins an affair with a rich guy, Clay, among other things. More lies. Her emotions are all over the board. Karen is torn between social classes, seeing the poor living in shelters and the rich and their superficial ways. Hypocrisy. Guilt.
She was capable of paying hundreds of dollars for an espresso machine from Italy, Karen had a deeply ingrained cheap streak as well, which caused her to do things like go to the library and photocopy the crossword puzzle from the Sunday paper rather than pay for a subscription.
Rosenfeld kicks butt and puts it all out there. With keen insights, raw honesty, a brutal portrayal ---the truth of our unequal society in urban America. With humor and highly-charged topics, the author hits the bull's eye, with CLASS.
I especially enjoyed the wide range of topics from privilege, class, identity, entitlement, education, politics, domestic, marriage, social economics, philanthropy—to ethical dilemmas, the author does not miss a beat in this delightful satire.
A tale of one woman’s struggle between the madness of liberal and reality. The lesson liberals need to learn is that despite their arrogance, they do not have the power to alter reality. From liberals to progressive—is equality among human race the exception, and inequality the norm?
Much to like here whether you are a modern-day urban parent, grandparent, or single. Smart, witty, engaging, absorbing, and thought-provoking! The hardcover was stunning with a perfect fitting cover. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.
A special thank you to Little Brown & Co., Goodreads Giveaway, and NetGalley for a complimentary reading copy, in exchange for an honest review.
Robinson has some stuff to say. She remains funny as hell even when she’s talking about serious stuff. Every stand-up comedian with a certain amount of name-recognition is offered a book deal, but few of them really excel at longer-form writing. It requires different skills and it’s equally as hard as writing jokes. I’m almost tempted to start listening to the podcast Robinson does with Jessica Williams. I’m sure it’s both scathing and hilarious.
No doubt there are people who will disagree with me on this, but I quite like the books I've seen that started as blogs or Tumblrs or similar. The editor has a fine opportunity to see what the audience is, and a good idea of what a finished product would contain. And all that I have read so far managed to take what was a good idea and make it richer, deeper, more fleshed out.
As, for example, here. Because Bader Ginsberg has been awesome all her life. It was fascinating to see the trajectory of her career, and the progression of legal challenges to laws restricting women's rights. This isn't a traditional biography, but it certainly manages to hit a lot of high spots. And it also gives a wonderful insight into the ACLU and the directed plan to increase civil rights. I'd never thought about it before, but now that I know I love the idea of a career based on observing and fighting injustice. She has style, she has flair (those marvelous collars), and she has a keen sense of justice. The Notorious RBG was an entertaining and uplifting book. Every expansion in human rights is treated as something the privileged class just decided one day that it had to go. History classes (back when I took them) rarely or never portrayed the hard work, the organization, the PR, the constant ongoing struggle to achieve what has been denied. So seeing that presented in a zippy way with fan art, that is just a fabulous hook. I hope every young woman reads this and considers what she wants to fight for, and how, as well as how to accessorize her judge's robes. (oh, yeah, it feels a little Legally Blonde in a good way)
Not only was there a clamor at the house to read this first, but there was widespread interest among the librarians and patrons who saw the book. I can't fault any thing that gets people thinking about how to make the world better.