She Persisted

by Chelsea Clinton, 2017

Review is copyright 2018 by Wil C. Fry. All Rights Reserved.

Published: 2018.02.12

Copyright 2018 by Wil C. Fry.
Some rights reserved.
Full Title: She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed The World
Author: Chelsea Clinton
Year: 2017
Genre: Children, Feminism, Equality
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin Random House)
ISBN 978-1-5247-4172-3
View It On Amazon
Author’s Wikipedia page


Written for children, She Persisted was inspired by the “Nevertheless, she persisted” kerfluffle in early 2017 — when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell absurdly said of Senator Elizabeth Warren: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” He clearly thought his statement was a great explanation for why men in the senate had silenced a woman colleague, ignoring that a man used the exact same words and wasn’t warned, given an explanation, or silenced. For feminists worldwide, McConnell’s extremely poorly chosen phrase brought to mind all the times men had silenced, ignored, blocked, prohibited, and otherwise held back the achievements of women.

According to the dust jacket’s inner flap:
“She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.”

What I Liked Least About It

My only real complaint about this book was on the first page of text, in these two sentences:
“At some point, someone probably will tell you no, will tell you to be quiet and may even tell you your dreams are impossible. Don’t listen to them.”
The sentiment is grand, but I was reading it to my seven-year-old daughter and four-year-old son, neither of whom ever has any compunctions about speaking up or not listening to authority figures. So I had to explain to them it’s not talking about being quiet when the teacher is talking or sitting still in a movie theater, that it’s about being told not to try or that you’re not good enough.

My second complaint is the missing Oxford comma in the above quote, something that Clinton does throughout the book. I am well aware that this practice is increasingly common, but that doesn’t make it any better. There are going to be times when it comes in handy, but because you’re not in the practice of using the Oxford comma, you’ll leave it out and your sentence will be misunderstood. Example: “After beating the Steelers, Tim Tebow thanked his parents, God and Ms. Trunchbull.” God and Ms. Trunchbull aren’t Tim Tebow’s parents but you just said they were. Put that missing comma back in there, and the sentence is fixed.

What I Liked Most About It

This book is fantastic. My voice broke as I read it — I was holding back tears. It tells short, one-page-each stories of women who broke barriers, did amazing things despite the odds, and who remain as heroes for women today who stand on their shoulders. On the facing page of each story is a quotation from the woman in question.

The women included are Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, and Sonia Sotomayor.

A few of them are still alive; their presence daily reminding us of how very recent were the barriers that these women broke and how many barriers are still ahead.


Both of my young children were fascinated by this book, but especially my seven-year-old daughter, who saw herself in many of these pages. I highly recommend it to anyone with young children — especially daughters.

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