by Lisa Congdon
Chronicle Books. 2017
It is really hard to be over 55 in our youth oriented society. Adjectives used to describe older people, mostly women, include outdated, irrelevant, unimportant. You become invisible. When reading children & teen fiction, more and more, or maybe I’m just noticing it more, older women are portrayed as silly, bothersome, out-of-touch, creepy, and often described as ugly because of gray hair and/or wrinkles.
In, A Glorious Freedom. Lisa Congdon celebrates women over the age of 40. “You might ask, Why make this book? Why are the lives of older women worth celebrating?” Because, getting older is liberating. One becomes less self-centered, more aware of the needs of those around you. You are more hardworking, determined, creative, willing to take risks.
The book is a combination of profiles of well-known women, along with brief essays and question & answers with current women who found a more fulfilling path to their lives upon turning 40.
The profiles include writers, scientists, activists, both living and deceased who did not let age or gender discrimination stop them from doing what they were passionate about. Described as late bloomers, these women began their careers after turning 40. Included are: Beatrice Wood, Vera Wang, Louise Bourgeois, Sensei Keiko Fukuda, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Minnie Pwerle, Julia Child, Mary Delany, Sister Madonna Buder, Carmen Herrera, Helen Gurley Brown, Angela Morely, Eva Zeisel, Anna Arnold Hedgeman, Grandma Moses, Katherine Johnson, and Marguerite Duras.
In the introduction, Congdon explains that the idea for this book came after she posted an essay on her blog about how getting older changed her life in a positive way. Receiving an overwhelming response, she asked followers who considered themselves late bloomers to submit essays about the process of aging, their relationship to aging, the struggles, the triumphs.” She was astounded by the response.
Congdon is an illustrator and fine artist. Her black & white portraits accompanies each profile. Quotes from famous women (We turn not older with years, but newer every day. Emily Dickinson) in bold, hand drawn letters and her playful, colorful signature style art is scattered throughout the book.
There is a bibliography, credits for quotes as back matter.
A Glorious Freedom is a wonderful celebration of women and aging. It helps redefine what it means to grow older. When shared with students from middle school up, or given to parents with children in that age range, is a hopeful reminder that women get better with time. Growing older is natural and we can make it whatever we want it to look like.
Watch a brief book promo by clicking here.
Go here to see interior shots of the book.
I borrowed this book from my local public library to write this review.