The American Association of University Women's

¡Adelante! Books of the Month 2012-13

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.

Should any of these selections not seem suitable for your group, feel free to select an alternative book of your choice.

September 2012: National Hispanic Heritage Month

Make It Your Business: Dare to Climb the Ladder of Leadership

By Sylvia M. Montero

Sylvia Montero tells the story of her journey from a plantation shack in Puerto Rico and the projects of the Lower East Side of Manhattan to a "beyond dreams" career at Pfizer Inc., the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. This is a memoir and business book filled with stories of successes and setbacks that translate into portable tools for how to succeed in corporate America.

October 2012: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Lark and Termite

By Jayne Anne Phillips

Lark and Termite is set during the 1950s in West Virginia and Korea. It is a story of the power of loss and love, the echoing ramifications of war, family secrets, dreams and ghosts, and the unseen, almost magical bonds that unite and sustain us. At its center, are two children: Lark, on the verge of adulthood, and her brother, Termite, a child unable to walk and talk but filled with radiance. Around them, their mother, Lola, a haunting but absent presence; their aunt Nonie, a matronly, vibrant woman in her fifties, who raises them; and Termite's father, Corporal Robert Leavitt, who finds himself caught up in the chaotic early months of the Korean War.

November 2012: Native American Heritage Month


By Linda Hogan

Sixteen-year-old Omishita Eaton and her adoptive Aunt Ama are members of the fictional Taiga tribe of Florida, a dwindling group that is down to its last 30 members. After a devastating hurricane, Ama and the girl track a wounded deer into the swamps and use it as a stalking horse to hunt a panther, an animal sacred to the Taiga. Ama kills the cat, a scrawny, flea-bitten example of its species, and is charged with poaching and violations of the Endangered Species Act. The event tears the Taiga community apart. Most castigate her for slaying the sacred animal, but Omishita stands by her. Though Ama's motives are never made entirely clear, there are intimations that she undertook the taboo act in the hope of sparking regeneration not only of the Taiga culture but of all of creation.

December 2012

This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President

By Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

In January 2006, after the Republic of Liberia had been racked by fourteen years of brutal civil conflict, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - Africa's "Iron Lady" - was sworn in as president, an event that marked a tremendous turning point in the history of the West African nation. In this stirring memoir, Sirleaf shares the inside story of her rise to power, including her early childhood; her experiences with abuse, imprisonment, and exile; and her fight for democracy and social justice. This compelling tale of survival reveals Sirleaf's determination to succeed in multiple worlds: from her studies in the United States to her work as an international bank executive to her election campaigning in some of Liberia''s most desperate and war-torn villages and neighborhoods. It is also the story of an outspoken political and social reformer who, despite danger, fought the oppression of dictators and championed change. By sharing her story, Sirleaf encourages women everywhere to pursue leadership roles at the highest levels of power and gives us all hope that, with perseverance, we can change the world.

January 2013

Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq

By Riverbend

In August 2003, the world gained access to a remarkable new voice: a blog written by a 25-year-old Iraqi woman living in Baghdad whose identity remained concealed for her own protection. Calling herself Riverbend, she offered searing eyewitness accounts of the everyday realities on the ground punctuated by astute analysis on the politics behind these events. In a voice that is eloquent, angry, reflective and darkly comic, Riverbend recounts stories of life in an occupied city - of neighbors whose homes are raided by U.S. troops, whose relatives disappear into prisons, and whose children are kidnapped by money-hungry militias. At times, the tragic blends into the absurd as she tells of her family jumping out of bed to wash clothes and send e-mails in the middle of the night when the electricity is briefly restored or of their quest to bury an elderly aunt when the mosques are all overbooked for wakes and the cemeteries are all full. The only Iraqi blogger writing from a woman's perspective, she also describes a once-secular city where women are now afraid to leave their homes without head covering and a male escort.

February 2013: Black History Month

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people and gained access to new data and official records to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded and altered our cities, our country, and ourselves.

March 2013: Women's History Month

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor, Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells - taken without her knowledge - became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today even though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons - as much as 100 Empire State buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the "colored" ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells and Lacks' small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia - a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo - to East Baltimore, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

April 2013

Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond

By Lilly Ledbetter (with Lanier Scott Isom)

In 1979, Lilly Ledbetter applied for her dream job at the Goodyear Tire factory. Though she faced daily discrimination and sexual harassment, she pressed onward believing that eventually things would change. Nineteen years later, Ledbetter received an anonymous note revealing that she was making thousands of dollars less per year than the men in her position. Devastated, she filed a sex discrimination case against Goodyear, which she won - and then heartbreakingly lost on appeal. Over the next eight years, her case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she lost again - the court ruled that she should have filed suit within 180 days of her first unequal paycheck despite the fact that she had no way of knowing that she was being paid unfairly for all those years. In a dramatic moment, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench and urged Ledbetter to fight back. And fight she did - she became the namesake of President Barack Obama's first official piece of legislation. Today, she is a tireless advocate for change and travels the country to urge women and minorities to claim their civil rights. Both a deeply inspiring memoir and a powerful call to arms, Grace and Grit is the story of a true American icon.

May 2013: Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

The Buddha in the Attic

By Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka's long awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as picture brides nearly a century ago. In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces their extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.

June 2013: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month

Out on the Sound

By R. E. Bradshaw

In her late 30s, Decky Bradshaw was set for life. She had an incredibly lucky life up to this point - excluding the brief marriage to her son's father. She had a great job, plenty of money, and a very comfortable existence. Bradshaw figured if someone ever came along that tickled her fancy, she'd know. She never thought for one second it would be a woman. Neither did her mother. Follow Bradshaw as she finds new love and deals with her, "Tennessee Williams in drag," overly dramatic, southern mother, Lizzie, and the hurricane of events she brings.

July 2013

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa Harris-Perry

In this groundbreaking book, Melissa V. Harris-Perry uses multiple methods of inquiry, including literary analysis, political theory, focus groups, surveys, and experimental research, to understand more deeply black women's political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images. Not a traditional political science work concerned with office-seeking, voting, or ideology, Sister Citizen instead explores how African American women understand themselves as citizens and what they expect from political organizing. Harris-Perry shows that the shared struggle to preserve an authentic self and secure recognition as a citizen links together black women in America, from the anonymous survivors of Hurricane Katrina to the current first lady of the United States

August 2013

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

By Harriet Ann Jacobs

This autobiographical account by a former slave is one of the few extant narratives written by a woman. Written and published in 1861, it delivers a powerful portrayal of the brutality of slave life. Jacobs speaks frankly of her master's abuse and her eventual escape in a tale of dauntless spirit and faith.

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