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Half the Sky, a Co-Review

February 15, 2010

Today, Heather and I are discussing Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl Wudunn (see the official site for more information). This is the second half of the interview, so it won’t make much sense unless you pop on over to Heather’s first.

Eva: To answer your last question, I read the book awhile ago, so I don’t remember a lot of the profiles. But I did love the one of the woman who has lived in Senegal for the past couple decades, and has developed a program that actually helps end female genital mutilation by involving the whole village. That filled me a lot of hope. :D

What would you say the weakest part of the book was?

Heather: Let’s see, the weakest part… this is hard because I don’t think there was anything particularly weak about the book as a whole. I mean, they did provide a ton of options for what we as “outsiders” can do to improve some of these horrific situations for women around the world, and there was a lot of talk about what governments and individuals in those areas can do… so I feel like they covered their bases there. I felt like there were several tangible options I had for helping, and I also felt like there was enough discussion on the larger issues going on for most of these women, why our money won’t just magically fix everything and more needs to be done by people actually living these situations. I guess, for me, the weakest part would be what I already sort of mentioned, that I didn’t personally learn much from the book. Which is fine because I am pretty knowledgeable about women’s issues around the globe, but I just would have liked a little something extra that I hadn’t already heard about or thought about before.

What would you say the weakest part was? And was there anything in the book that particularly stuck out to you as new information, or even old information presented in a new and thought-provoking way?

Eva: I suppose the only weak part might be the lack of sophistication in the analysis. Let’s see…I’m not sure I learned much new information (except for the bits about all the icky things that can go wrong to women in labour…those health problems were new to me), but I did like the presentation. The combination of a general overview, along with personal stories, and then recommendations for change really worked for me!

I guess that’s about all that I have to say on it. Any last thoughts from you?

Heather: Any last thoughts… well, one last thing I’d like to add is that since we started our discussion on the book, Oprah actually featured it on her show, and on her site she has many of the same resources that Half the Sky talked about. Just in case anyone reading this wants to get involved immediately (like, before reading the book for yourself, which is totally awesome), you can go to and there are many quick links on how you can help right now.

But, in conclusion, I recommend the book! It wasn’t perfect for me, but like you said, Eva, it’s a great general overview of the issues women are facing worldwide today, and I loved the resources on how the average person can make a difference.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2010 5:56 am

    That’s the kind of book that I like to read. Thank you for sharing it here.

    • February 16, 2010 7:31 am

      I think you’d definitely get a lot out of it. :)

  2. February 15, 2010 6:10 am

    I enjoyed the talking between Heather and you. There is so much to learn about women issues. I think “Striped Chair” mentioned female mutilation. I think one of Alice Walker’s novels is about this issue. I’ve always felt so sorry for these women and wished I could in some small way make their life better. Then, of course one issue more familiar to the West is domestic violence. Two weeks ago I had to make a visit to the emergency ward for a health reason. I was so surprised to see so many small posters about this issue. Years ago people whispered about the issue especially if it took place in the home of an elite male figure like a doctor, lawyer, etc. So many issues women face everyday, every month, every year. One book I remember reading about domestic violence is “Black and Blue by Quindlen. This is one of Oprah’s club books from the past. I also have read “Here on Earth” by Hoffman. If my memory serves me, this book is also about the same issue.

    Thank you for the talk between Eva and Heather, very good talk.

    • February 16, 2010 7:32 am

      Thanks for the book recs! There are definitely many women’s issues that need to be addressed throughout the world. But as you say, at least we’re talking about them now. That’s the first step.

  3. February 15, 2010 6:48 am

    Combined reviews/discussions are such fun to read! I already have this book on hold, but I’m quite a ways down the list… it may take a while.

    • February 16, 2010 7:34 am

      I read it right when it was released, and before Oprah featured it; I imagine it’d take a lot longer for me to get it from the library now!

  4. February 15, 2010 7:52 am

    This is sitting on my shelf to read! Thanks for the review.

    • February 16, 2010 7:34 am

      You should read and review it now! :)

  5. February 15, 2010 8:29 am

    I read this a few weeks ago. I must have been really naive because it was absolutely eye-opening for me. While I’d heard about sex slavery and discrimination against women before, I hadn’t really understood what it meant. I even called it a “must read” in my review (a term I do not give lightly) because it’s full of issues I think everyone needs to know more about.

    Which books do you suggest that might be even better? Not too painful/gruesome but similarly hopeful and eye-opening about the issues.

    • February 16, 2010 7:36 am

      I think that your review was wonderful Rebecca, and especially as a counterpoint to Heather’s and my pov, since we’ve both studied the topic a lot.

      Hmmm….this is honestly the most hopeful book I’ve ever read on these issues. The other ones that I’ve read have been eye-opening but incredibly depressing. And I’ve taken classes about a lot of this stuff, so I’ve read articles, etc. vs. more public-oriented books. Is there a suggested reading list in Half the Sky itself?

  6. February 15, 2010 1:52 pm

    Yes, like this. It’s gotta get bumped up on the tbr. Nice review ladies.

  7. February 15, 2010 2:05 pm

    I have this on hold at the library. I am just waiting for my turn. :)

    • February 16, 2010 7:37 am

      Your library has a book I reviewed?! Hallelujah! lol

  8. February 15, 2010 4:01 pm

    What a great idea for a review! It was fun to read both your thoughts on this book.

  9. February 15, 2010 7:18 pm

    i liked reading the give and take between you and heather–clever idea.

    this book sounds educational for many westerners who might not appreciate the scope of oppression in the world. i haven’t read this book but am interested to see how the average citizen can help. i’m off to check out the links!

    • February 16, 2010 7:39 am

      The website gives lots of ideas for helping out. :) I’ve always found that just striking up a discussion, talking to people about these issues when they didn’t even know they existed, is a great way to spread awareness.

  10. February 15, 2010 9:56 pm

    I love the style of this review!!

    I also wanted to let you know I passed on an award to you at my blog.

  11. January 10, 2013 3:20 pm

    I think Half the Sky is more sophisticated than you imagine. To me it’s like the Tao Te Ching, you have to contemplate each story for a long time before all the angles the writers hint at are revealed.


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