“My mother thinks that I behaved very courageously, but I was scared and in pain all the time. And I did what I had to do because there was no way out,” writes Isabel Allende, a woman caught in political upheaval in Chile, who saved many lives.
Allende is one of the first of over forty essayists in this book on women and courage. Martin, who embarked on the compilation as a “courage voyeur,” discovered and reveals that courage is about more than “climbing unscaleable mountains.” It is, she and the writers convey, about matters of the heart.
The women in this book successfully write from their hearts. There is Jako, for instance: a young woman, who, in 1992 tested HIV positive— the result of a brief period of multiple relationships. There is Barbara, a former NASA research scientist whose psychic abilities she could finally no longer ignore. There is Lynne, who leads a group into deepest Ethiopia to educate them about world famine and ends up confronting more than she ever thought she was ready for herself. There are also stories of women abandoned by their husbands who need to learn to survive and make sure their children survive; women in politics, sometimes by choice,
sometimes not; women who help the homeless, women who are themselves homeless. There’s the everyday and the out of the ordinary.
The title might be daunting for those who judge themselves as less than courageous, but the stories reveal the universality of women.
Their words are inspiring, not intimidating.