Justice Sonia Sotomayor is an inspiration, not just for being the first Hispanic woman appointed to the Supreme Court but for her amazing personal story, which shows her resilience, bravery, and determination. Sotomayor was raised by a single mother (her alcoholic father died when she was just 9 years old) and her grandmother, who gave her shelter from the troubles at home. When she was diagnosed with diabetes as a child, the disease gave Sotomayor the self-reliance and independence she would need to one day make her mark on the world. This inspiring story embodies the spirit of the American dream — made all the better with its happy ending.
Conventional thought about Rosa Parks, the black woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white person, is that she was quiet and soft-spoken and that her action stemmed from being tired rather than a desire to change the world. This new biography, though, presents Parks as a civil rights activist who was very involved in the movement to change the status of black men and women in the South. We all know that Parks was a courageous woman who stood up for what was right, but this new look at her is fascinating, well researched and informative.
Too much nonfiction on this list? Historical fiction is a great way to learn about history through an entertaining storyline. The Secrets of Mary Bowser is a fictional account of the life of a real woman. Mary Bowser was a slave in the American Civil War era. Highly educated and smart, she was freed by her owner and sent North to attend school. Bowser returned to the South at her own peril, posing as a slave in Confederate president Jefferson Davis' home and passing the Union information vital to winning the war. She was an incredibly brave woman who put her life on the line on a daily basis to help a cause she believed in. Though Bowser has been largely lost to history, Lois Leveen has ensured through this gripping novel she will not be forgotten.
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