Holding Her Head High – Book Review

Holding Her Head High coverEarly Reviewer badgeI “finished” Holding Her Head High: Twelve Single Mothers Who Championed Their Children and Changed History by Janine Turner. When I say that I finished it, I mean that I made it about 3/4 of the way through the book by sheer force of will but finally just gave up. I have problems with how the book was marketed, with the oft cliché writing, and with many of the historical assumptions. I REALLY wanted to finish reading this book so that I could catalog ALL of my issues with it, but as I read I found more and more that I was just sick of putting post-it notes in the book and I was a bit worried that nobody was going to want to read a 5 page single-spaced review tearing the book apart.

This book could have had value as a devotional or as almost a journal/memoir of her recording her faith story of being a single mom in relation to these women. Unfortunately, the publisher described her book as this, “describes the social implications for women and children from the Roman Empire through the Middle Ages to Pioneer days.” That is precisely what she did NOT do. I expect that a book that is describing social implications of things between 100 and 1700 years ago would be written with an historical perspective. She clearly had some ‘facts’ about the periods, but not an understanding of the period as a whole, as there were some deeply flawed historical assumptions that seemed to be more “this is how I want it to have been, so this is how it was.” She sort of tried to have an historical perspective, but the style was all wrong. I felt bad, but I actually felt bored by the lives of these women who must have actually been fascinating – and I’m a history major!

I cannot go into this any further right now, or I’ll just get as annoyed as I was while reading this book. Perhaps later I’ll categorized for all of you some of my specific issues…they’re all still marked with post-it notes.

Edit 3/7/08: If you would like to get this book and read it for yourself, click here and perhaps I can send it to you…

Buy this book on Amazon: Holding Her Head High: 12 Single Mothers Who Championed Their Children and Changed History

5 comments to Holding Her Head High – Book Review

  • Literate Housewife

    Last year I made a commitment to finish each book I started. That resulted in me actually finishing the Emperor’s Children, which was easily the worst book I’ve read in a long time. Through that experience I learned that for myself there is no value in finishing a book I am not enjoying or that irritates me. So, I didn’t finish Eat, Pray, Love and I’m a happier person for it. I think that your review of Janine Turner’s book is honest and will give the publisher good feedback. It looks as though they need to change their marketing strategy.

  • I am TOTALLY a supporter of not finishing books that are going nowhere for you. Books should be enjoyed and you should learn from them, not be annoyed at them. There were several last year that I didn’t finish and feel just a-okay about it. I could barely finish Nickel and Dimed this past summer (http://sarahlookingin.blogspot.com/2007/08/nickel-and-dimed-summer-reading-3.html) but I did it, lest I faced the wrath of those who liked it.

  • devourerofbooks

    I totally agree with you both, I will leave books. In fact, Brian bought a book that had all 3 Lord of the Rings stories in it and I left it half-way through Return of the King, because it was just too much Tolkien for me. I think with this book I felt like I should finish it because it was my Early Reviewer book. However, I think I gave it more than a fair shot. I realized I really needed to give it up when I was reading it waiting for my food in the microwave at work and someone said, “oh, are you reading a good book?” and my answer was, “no, it is pretty terrible, actually.” I read about 5 more pages and the conclusion (which had a special terribleness of its own) and just stopped and started reading The Translator: A Tribeman’s Memoir of Darfur which so far is fanTAStic.

  • Wow, Sarah was not joking. You really are avid. So fun to find your blog!

  • […] Holding Her Head High – not good, I ditched the last quarter due to the repetitive nature and bad pseudo-history. […]