The Book of the Week is “Toughing It Out” by Claire Reed, published in 2012. This ebook is the autobiography of a “shrinking violet” turned political activist.
Reed was born in Brooklyn, New York in the late 1920’s into a relatively wealthy Jewish family typical for its generation. Her parents cared not a whit for her education, allowing her to miss school to spend time out-of-town with her wealthy friends. Her mother was an especially bad influence, conditioning her to believe that she should simply marry a rich man to have a good life. After the deaths of various of her relatives within a few years, and lacking income-producing skills and self-confidence, she was obliged to get married.
The author illustrates the American mentality of the rich in the immediate Postwar Era through several anecdotes on herself and her sexist husband, who was like her late father. One example involved a fur coat– the material object a wife needed to wear as a symbol of a husband’s ability to provide for his family and of his masculinity.
Read the book to learn how Reed overcame her low-self esteem problem, came to play a vital role in Congresswoman Bella Abzug’s political activities and came into her own as a productive member of society.