International Women’s Month: Book Review

March is Women’s History Month, an annual celebration in the United States that recognizes and celebrates the contributions of women throughout the nation’s history. This month on the Counseling Matters blog, we are examining different ways to celebrate this month and the strong women whose voices changed the world we live in.

Cassandra Speaks, When Women are the Storytellers, The Human Story Changes, written by Elizabeth Lesser, is a book I highly recommend for International Women’s Month. This book examines how our world’s collective known history might be understood differently if it had been recorded by women. She dives into the idea that point of view truly matters when hearing a story. For example, she asks how the story of Adam and Eve might be different if we heard it from Eve’s perspective; or why Pandora was blamed in ancient Greek mythology for opening the box.

The author argues that women would have told different stories to mark history, stories that would have highlighted caretaking, compassion, and community rather than glorifying power, war, sex, and violence. This isn’t just a book about feminist ideas but rather challenges our collective knowledge of history. The author offers a challenging argument that our understanding of the world and how it operates would be vastly different if women also had a voice in writing ancient literature and creating ancient art.

The book examines origin tales such as Adam and Eve, Pandora’s Box, and other Greek and Roman mythology. She then goes on to question what the world considers the most influential books of all time. She points out that the “greats,” all written by men, are taught to young people to learn what it means to be human and give a distinctly male perspective. One must look at what is called Women’s literature to get a female perspective. The books written by women who made it on the “greats” list were written by women, usually using a man’s pen name. I found this reporting challenging and wondered why I’d never questioned it.

Cassandra Speaks a challenging read. It calls into question many things I had just accepted about culture and my general understanding of how the world works. I didn’t always agree with the writer, but I did enjoy the experience of thinking through the issues she proposed. It would be a fantastic book club book. You will want someone else to be reading this with you so you can discuss the concepts and stories that are told.

I recommend the book Cassandra Speaks by Elizabeth Lesser as a wonderful way to celebrate March, International Women’s Month. I would love to hear your thoughts about the book. Please leave a comment if you’ve read it already. Or, come back and tell me what you thought after you’ve turned the pages of this fascinating book.

If you need support and would like to speak to a professional counselor about topics such as the one featured in this blog and are in the Chicago area, please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.

Written By: Christine B., Masters Level Intern 2023

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