February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Motor Girls!: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly into the Twentieth Century by Sue Macy | SLJ Review

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redstarMACY, Sue. Motor Girls!: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly into the Twentieth Century. 96p. further reading. notes. photos. websites. National Geographic. Feb. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781426326974.

NF-Macy-MotorGirlsGr 6 Up –This meticulously researched account of early automobiles and women is an excellent companion to Macy’s previous title Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). Macy delves into early automobile history through the use of primary sources, period photographs, and archival materials to show how women cracked gender stereotypes and whizzed past societal barriers. The prevailing sentiment in the early 20th century was that driving was too messy, strenuous, and nerve-racking for women. However, women proved themselves over and over again, competing in endurance races, cross-country trips, and speed trials. Of particular interest is the role the car played in the suffrage movement. As women became more mobile, they could gather for meetings and make their collective voices louder. The role female drivers played during World War I is also discussed. Once the Great War ended, some of these figures didn’t want to relinquish their employment, foreshadowing similar home front experiences after the Second World War. Overall, it is important to note that this book tells the story of a narrow group of people; many, many women were prohibited from driving well past the time period covered. VERDICT Although it may take a bit of selling on the part of librarians, this insight into women automobile pioneers is well worth it. Highly recommended for tween and teen history collections.–Lisa Crandall, formerly at the Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2017 issue.

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