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Friday, November 7, 2014

Forgetting to be Afraid: A Memoir

I find Wendy Davis to be fascinating. I watched with utter and complete fascination when she filibustered, and I was watching the Texas gubernatorial race closely. Therefore, I requested to review Forgetting to be Afraid as soon as it was available. And here we are.

You may best know Wendy Davis from that fateful day in 2013 when she filibustered the Texas congress to stop a vote on an abortion bill that would effectively outlaw the procedure in the state of Texas. Regardless of how you feel about this bill, Davis's story starts long before that day and is the story of a woman fighting to be the best she could be. From a young doomed marriage that produced her beloved oldest daughter to graduating from Harvard Law School, Davis has never stopped pushing to do what she believes in.

This was an incredibly fascinating memoir, a lot of which surprised me. Usually memoirs get bogged down in the details of life as a child, which is not something I am terribly interested in, but Davis kept those chapters short and sweet to get to the meat of the middle of the book, which was her struggle to go back to junior college and then on to a four-year university. It was the moment she realized that she could be a lawyer, not just a paralegal, that was the turning point in her life. I have an immense amount of respect for a woman who, in her mid-20's and a single mother, was willing to say to herself that she could go to school for another seven years if she put her mind to it. That's a huge commitment, and a scary one. It's that kind of grit that made her the woman she is today.

Following her second marriage to the father of her youngest daughter, Davis spends a short amount of time on the two children she lost due to genetic health issues, both of whom she and her husband wanted to desperately. Her experience in having to choose to stop the suffering of her unborn children is very moving and one that I hope to never have myself. It's a moving point in the book, and while Davis does not spend a great deal of time in those moments, they are enough to know the great effect these had on her future political career.

The book then takes us through her initial run for city council through her time in the Texas legislature, and then into her historic filibuster that moved me. Leaving aside the reasons for the filibuster as to keep politics out of this, I admire a person who is so adamant in her convictions to serve his or her constituents. It's a passion that I find missing in many areas of politics, so to turn on the live stream of that June evening, I was moved to tears to watch something so profound happening. Fighting for the rights of others, no matter what side you are on, is a right and a privilege, and having the opportunity to hear about Davis's thoughts on that day from her own perspective was worth reading the book.

 Hard copy for purchase below.

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