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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit. With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in thi…

Overall Book Review:

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu is a young adult graphic novel that introduces the reader to 29 women from different times, places, and cultures in full technicolor.  The illustrations were vibrant, colorful, engaging, and crammed with thoughtful details.  Unless the reader is an accomplished student of history, most of the women will be relatively unknown (at least by name) to the reader.

There were nuggets included about women we recognize by sight, but not by name, such as Margaret Hamilton, the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie The Wizard of Oz.  Especially charming was the inclusion of women who did what might be considered “non-flashy” things, such as Giorgina Reid and Josephina Van Gorkum.  It was a nice acknowledgment (and inspiration) that all contributions at all levels are valuable, not just the showy and conspicuous ones.

All about girl-power, Brazen serves as a good, high-level introduction to many fascinating individuals from history.  And, whether one agrees with their passions/moral views or not, it is clear that these women definitely had a powerful impact on the world.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by First Second Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation; 2 mild obscenities; 2 derogatory names; 1 scatological word; 1 anatomical term.

Violence/Gore:  Picture of a person who died from poison; picture of a person who caught on fire; picture of a car going off a cliff resulting in deaths; panel showing a pool of blood and a knife (someone committed suicide); panel showing (from a distance) a person who was gored by an elephant; reference to Hitler and WWII; panel showing operation with depiction of entrails; image of a dead person on ground with blood and bullets finding; civil war; several panels showing woman with injuries from domestic violence; reference to wife beaten; references to war; image of a battered bride; references to abortions via knitting needles w/image of angel wings dripping blood; woman learns to perform at home abortions; panel depicting inhuman cruelty in woman’s asylum; image of a bird tacked with knife to a door; report of deaths by volcano panel of a mother with rifle fending off gang; reference to assassination of M.L. King; report of a boat torpedoed and the deaths of refugees and children; panel depicting revels (blood, massacred in battle); reports of death; 2 panels showing murders scenes with blood; several panels illustrating models of crime scenes.

Sex/Nudity:  Reference to someone appearing nude in a movie and a panel with woman nude, but strategically sketched long hair covering front; reference to “danse sauvage”; panel showing a woman with two other women and inference to more than “two loves”/lesbian; chapter on Tove Jansson extensively addresses her lesbian relationship(s), not graphic; picture of man and woman kissing; person becomes pregnant out of wedlock; one chapter extensively covers Christine Jorgensen (born George) who went through sex therapy and sex change operations; reference to concubines and sexual relationship; implication that a step-father sexually molested his step-daughter; reference to sexual pleasure; woman enters lesbian relationship late in life (one panel with women holding hands and 1 panel showing them kissing); posterior nude sketching; wife accuse of shenanigans with another man; reference to the composition of music about sex & sexuality, prostitution, kinky sex; woman in a movie where she is fully nude and she simulates an orgasm (1 panel); reference to a succession of lovers; father had an affair; reference to many affairs and lovers.

Mature Subject Matter:

War, domestic violence, sexual identity, suicide, politics, revolution, divorce, lesbian/homosexuality, feminism, sexual discrimination, child marriages, activism, abortions/promotion of abortions, aging, wife beatings, insane asylums. 

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Depiction of individuals drinking and smoking; reference to child soldiers who became drug addicts; reference to experimental drugs; reference to being drunk.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!