Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Daring - Gail Sheehy

Daring: My Passages
I have to start this post with a confession.

Before reading this book, I had never heard of Gail Sheehy or even her best-selling book Passages. Now that I've read her memoir and know more about her life and advances in journalism, I'm more than a little ashamed that I had no knowledge of this pioneer woman.

Gail Sheehy has lived a remarkable life as a journalist, covering everything from Bloody Sunday (she was there!) to prostitution to political leaders around the globe (including Gorbachev and Hillary Clinton) to serious studies of adult development. Her investigative reporting relies on the narrative non-fiction structure that became popular in the second half of the twentieth century, in part due to her late husband and New York magazine founder, Clay Felker. 

Whether we realize it or not, women of my generation have a lot to thank Sheehy for. She has played a big role in women's equality in the workplace, specifically in the world of journalism. I'm sure if I was in that field, I would have known who she was long before now.

I enjoyed reading Sheehy's life story. She certainly has had opportunities to meet people and be in places that were inaccessible to so many. I very much respected that Sheehy lived a live of action. She didn't stop at reporting what she saw. It became part of her life. The best example of this is the Cambodian teenager, Mohm, she adopted after reporting on the refugees in that country. 

Sheehy's biggest success has been her book Passages and the subsequent follow-up books. In her words, the importance of passages in life are as follows:
Gail Sheehy
"It was temping to tie our transitions to marker events. Graduations, getting or losing a job, marriage, children's births, divorce, parents' deaths, and retirement are the concrete happenings of our lives. But a developmental stage was not defined in terms of marker events - it was defined by a change that began from within, whether or not it was accentuated by a marker event."
This idea was striking to me. It makes total sense - the most growing and changing we do is often not tied to a significant event in life, but rather lived out in the daily grind. As part of her Passages research, Sheehy also was one of the first really exploring the idea of adult development and stages of growth. This in and of itself was groundbreaking.

Once again, I feel properly schooled in an area of recent history I knew very little about. Those decades surrounding my birth seem, at times, like dark holes of ignorance in my life. Only now are people such as Sheehy really looking back at those years and writing comprehensive memoirs. In this case, I'm grateful I was given a chance to look into Sheehy's life and, now, speak intelligently about her experiences and advances, specifically for American women.

Pages: 496
Date Completed: September 20, 2014

*to read what others thought about Daring, check out the full blog tour schedule*

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know about Gail prior to this book either but she certainly lived pioneering life!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.