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A Day in the Life of the American Woman: How We See Ourselves    by Sharon Wohlmuth, Carol Saline & Dawn Sheggeby order for
Day in the Life of the American Woman
by Sharon Wohlmuth
Order:  USA  Can
Bulfinch, 2005 (2005)

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

The magnificence of A Day in the Life of the American Woman lies not only in the contributions of 'fifty of the world's most-talented female photographers' (including eleven Pulitzer Prize winners), nor in a combination of candid black and white with color photos, nor in its memorable text, but in the subject matter itself - women.

The introduction on 'How We See Ourselves' explains the background and purpose - 'Two years ago, a small group of us got together with the idea of creating a portrait of the American woman in 2005 - not the superstars who fill the pages of magazines, but ordinary women going about their everyday lives with grace, optimism, and resiliency. Our vision was to show, in pictures and in words, what brings them happiness and fulfillment, and how they cope with the challenges that are an inevitable part of life.'

Women featured include Mama Jamilah Peters-Muhammed who grew up in New Orleans. Jamilah's 'Granny Heart' is her granddaughter Nzinga, who lives at home with her along with her ten-year-old twin brothers. The move switched the children from inner-city schools to 'better ones close to her home'. More wondrous is Mama Jamilah's co-founding of 'Imagination Tours' with an African music and dance ensemble, taking other New Orleans schoolchildren to Africa to 'open their minds' to the magic of traditions.

A 'Circle of Friends' who swim at the 'Y' in Andover, Massachusetts includes a teacher, two nurses, an occupational therapist, and a former opera singer. They 'plan on swimming and caring for each other as long as they're alive and can make it to the pool.' Other stories feature women in cattle ranching, a border patrol agent, a native Alaskan who speaks Haida (only 65 people do so today), and Pat Derby, who launched PAWS - the Performing Animal Welfare Society. There's a young boxer, a stock-car racing driver, and the amazing 86-year old Ruth Duckworth, who gives retrospective shows in Chicago.

All of the stories in this exemplary tribute are unique. They present women with whom one can identify, be heartened and inspired by. A Day in the Life of the American Woman makes a perfect gift, one to be treasured. It has touched me deeply, as a book to hold close and cherish.

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