Many people may recognize the name Margaret Higgins Sanger as the feminist and women’s health activist who established organizations that became Planned Parenthood. But most probably aren’t aware of her early life, her upbringing in a gritty Upstate New York mill town in the late 1800s, when girls were expected to either grow up, marry, and have children, or become teachers.
What Every Girl Should Know: Margaret Sanger’s Journey by J. Albert Mann, is a historical fiction account of Sanger’s early life, when she was known as Maggie in a household of more than 12 adults and children. The family was poor, Maggie’s mother was often ill and pregnant, and her father was a free-thinker ostracized in their community. Maggie and her siblings had an endless amount of work every day to help keep the household running. She didn’t understand why women had such limited options, and she thought things should be different.
With the help of her siblings, she was able to leave and go to school for a time before breaking out of the cycle expected for her. Mann’s book reveals a lot about the hardship Maggie and her siblings faced, recounting parts of her life that undoubtedly influenced her outlook and led her to advocate for women. I recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs and readers aged 14 and up.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.