Book Review | Notorious RBG

Title: Notorious RBG: The Life & Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Authors: Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

Publisher: Dey Street Books

Published: 27 October 2015

Pages: 240

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I sometimes will peruse other reviews of a book that I’m reviewing because of the subject matter or to see how to appropriately review a book. For this review, I’m torn due to the subject hence why I looked at reviews. I’m reiterating what some wrote in theirs: 5 stars for the woman, 3.5 stars for the book.

I’ve known about RBG before she had this cult-following. (This is not meant to be a flex by any means. I’m just interested in politics. I’m not superior to anyone for this knowledge). I absolutely loved seeing how many more women, especially young adults, teens, and children have found their voices and spoke up for themselves due to RBG’s role in their lives.

This book is co-written by two women, Carmon (journalist) & Knizhnik (lawyer) that delves into the life, relationships, career of only our 2nd woman on the Supreme Court Bench, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was a little confused when I started reading, as I was trying to figure out how the authors were presenting their information. It wasn’t until around chapter 3 (“I Got a Story to Tell”) that I began to understand that this was not a typical biography. As someone who has a masters in English (again this does not make me superior, all it means is I did a shit-ton of reading), when reading biographies I’m expecting a chronological flow to the book. This usually entails a brief history of the person’s parents, then on to birth, early years, teens, university, career, legacy. Maybe a few more things sprinkled in, but overall this is the common structure. The way Carmon & Knizhnik set up their book was through subjects instead, so a chapter on RBG’s marriage, one on her relationships with other justices, and so on. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong about this, but it just read weird to me.

I do appreciate the authors’ attempts to make law more interesting through annotating RBG’s dissents or opinions of the court. There was also historical context provided that made it easier to place where we were in history. I really loved the inclusion of the timeline, that was helpful to see where we were in history and in RBG’s life. The pictures and images of letters throughout just felt more personal and real while reading.

RBG dedicated her life to serving those who didn’t have a voice and she did so with grace and passion. I want that on the table first before I say what I’m going to say next. I’m still a little perturbed by RBG not retiring from the court. I understand that appointments to the court are for life (and should be) and justices shouldn’t be forced or compelled to leave for any reason. Yet, I did cry the night that RBG died, not just for the amazing life this woman led but for all the people who may lose their own rights in the following years due to newer appointments to the court. After reading this book, some of my anger and frustration has dissipated after reading about RBG’s life and values and why she wouldn’t step down. I’m still a little miffed but not as much as I was.

Final thought, this was definitely a book more geared towards high school or college aged students rather than myself, but no matter what age it is still enjoyable.

Happy Reading Darlings!

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