Book Review: What Happened

In my experience, the balancing act women in politics have to master is challenging at every level, but it gets worse the higher you rise. If we’re too tough, we’re unlikable. If we’re too soft, we’re not cut out for the big leagues. If we work too hard, we’re neglecting our families. If we put family first, we’re not serious about the work. If we have a career but no children, there’s something wrong with us, and vice versa. If we want to compete for a higher office, we’re too ambitious. Can’t we just be happy with what we have? Can’t we leave the higher rungs on the ladder for men? Think how often you’ve heard these words used about women who lead: angry, strident, feisty, difficult, irritable, bossy, brassy, emotional, abrasive, high-maintenance, ambitious (a word that I think of as neutral, even admirable, but clearly isn’t for a lot of people). –H. Rodham Clinton

It’s about time we discussed what it means to fail in life.

What makes this a great work is the fact that the author talks about her failures. Yes, she takes responsibility. She feels pain. She struggles to find meaning and purpose when a future that seemed likely disappeared. I started this text with nothing more than a healthy respect for the professional success of Hillary Rodham Clinton over the years. I finished this book with disproportionate sadness for a loss many still cannot bring themselves to recognize. What I suggest is you read this as a lesson on experiencing defeat. It’s a lesson on what it means to have character, resilience, and passion for building communities. In short, it’s a front row seat of what it costs to take on the establishment of power, influence, and privilege that holds the glass ceiling in place.

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