Elizabeth Warren - A Fighting Chance (Review)


I debated (ha, get it?) whether or not I wanted to do a review of this book. I don't think it is any surprise that I am as blue as a person can get when it comes to politics, but I wasn't sure I wanted to write a review that would be like standing with a bull horn in terms of letting my politics be known. In the end, I obviously decided to hell with any concern I had...I welcome any civil discussion in the comments...just remember that key word: CIVIL!!

First off I have to say that I was surprised when I saw this book prominently displayed at my local library. I live in a very, very conservative town and I often joke that our house is where they contain all the liberals. So seeing a book like this displayed caught me off guard and I of course, picked it up right away!

In A Fighting Chance, Warren gives a linear telling of both her personal life, as well as how she came to be a senior senator for Massachusetts. I have watched Warren on television for years now and remember watching her senate race against Scott Brown with my fingers crossed. Thankfully, she won and we have watched her go on to create even more noise in the United States Senate.

Before reading her book, I know that I liked Elizabeth Warren, but that was based on the small bits and pieces I knew from her political career. I really knew little about her personally so I picked up this book partially because I liked Warren, but also because I wanted to learn more about her. I honestly, didn't know what to expect from her book and this might actually be the first book I have read by a politician so I was feeling a mix of intrigue and hesitancy going in. I remember my grandfather used to love reading political biographies so I figured there had to be something there to like (I think I can say with great certainty that my grandfather would have loved Warren as well)!

Reading about Warren's life was fascinating. I find that I often enjoy biographical books and hers was no exception. From early on in her life, she often challenged the normative expectations laid out in front of her and I appreciated that. While she struggled with balancing what was expected from her as a woman and from her family, she never gave up on her dreams and found ways to trudge on with her own personal goals, even when doing so made her feel guilty.

"The women's movement was exploding around the country, but not in our quiet New Jersey suburb and certainly not in our little family. I wanted to be a good wife and mother, but I wanted to do something more. I felt deeply ashamed that I didn't want to stay full-time with my cheerful, adorable daughter." 

She grappled with being pulled in different directions and went on to be quite successful as a professor, and then working in Washington as a loud advocate for the American consumer in many ways. I enjoyed how Warren tackled the stigma associated to such challenges as bankruptcy, as she took on adversaries like big banks. She understands that not all individuals who find themselves in dire straights financially, are bad people and steered away from the victim blaming that often occurs.

I loved how her book was balanced with stories from her personal life and of her career - both of which were filled with many challenges and triumphs. Oh, and she's a dog person - so that absolutely won some points! ;) I think her book can easily be labeled as inspiring and it only furthered my support for Warren.

I also enjoyed reading about her campaign for senate and found that she made some points that could be incredibly applicable now, in this current political climate. She touches on the sexism that is still alive and well within our society, particularly within politics. During a conversation with Mandy Grunwald, Grunwald makes the comment that,

"It happens with every woman. People have to talk about how she looks before they can talk about what she says." 

This bit made me think about the endless line of comments that are made regarding Hillary Clinton. We comment on her hair, or on what she is wearing... (I'm guilty of doing so...), often before we look at her credibility on any other scale. Her campaign has even utilized this by making campaign merchandise that gives a nod to her infamous pant suits.

Warren also made some important remarks in terms of the idea that people need to band together. Throughout her campaign, the idea of working together was ever present but it seems that this idea really told hold even more after she spoke at the 2012 Democratic Convention.

"When we fight, we can win. And when we get really fired up and fight shoulder to shoulder, we can do some pretty amazing things." 

Given our current political climate, I feel like this is a very important idea to try and take hold of. I also am aware that it can be a difficult message to appreciate. With so much tension within parties, it can be difficult for some to understand the power, and the importance of coming together. I hope that we see a shift, and that people start to band together - I won't doubt that Warren will help us to achieve that.

Overall I can easily say that I enjoyed reading A Fighting Chance and I would certainly recommend it to anyone who might have the slightest bit of interest in learning more about her.

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