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A Fighting Chance    by Elizabeth Warren order for
Fighting Chance
by Elizabeth Warren
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2015 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

In A Fighting Chance, Elizabeth Warren has written about her personal life as well as the political issues that are important to her. She grew up in Oklahoma, the youngest child and only daughter in a middle class family that never had much money. By the time she was a senior in high school her parents both had to work to support the three of them. When her mother caught her reading a book about colleges, she scolded her with the then common warning that girls with college educations had a harder time finding a husband, since they were supposed to get married, have children, and stay at home taking care of their families.

Elizabeth believed herself to be unattractive and thought that she would do better in life with a degree, so she researched colleges that offered degrees and scholarships in debating. When she received a full scholarship and a federal student loan from George Washington University, her mother's reaction to her news reflected 'equal parts pride and worry. She would say to friends: 'Well, she figured out how to go to college for free, so what could I say? But I don't know if she'll ever get married.'' Elizabeth did get married though, quitting college without obtaining a degree.

After getting married and moving to Texas with her new husband, she convinced him that finishing her college degree would increase her opportunities for finding a good job. She graduated from the University of Texas, and worked for a year as a speech therapist in an elementary school before her daughter was born. She loved being a mother but found the homemaker experience to be less than terrific or satisfying for her. She was a terrible cook, setting the kitchen on fire several times and even giving her family food poisoning. Back to school she went, this time to Rutgers Law School, where after obtaining her law degree she became an instructor, continuing to work after the birth of her second child. She writes with understanding about her first husband becoming disenchanted with the changed woman she had become and the divorce that followed.

Warren's candid writing flows and entertains, and the early background information about her life experiences helps the reader to understand her later social and political passion. One would think that reading about bankruptcy might be boring, but she fills her account with personal stories of hard-working people who were trying to pay off credit card or mortgage debt that kept increasing because of high interest rates. Bankruptcy was the last resort of these people and they were ashamed, feeling their own guilt and not really understanding the tricks that had been played on them by the banks or credit card companies.

Her accounts of her work on the Congressional Oversight Panel and her later work on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are interesting, passionate, and as personal as the rest of her story. She always worries about the people who don't have much money or clout, and those people rewarded her with enough money and votes to beat her Republican rival in her race for the Senate in Massachusetts, even though he was a popular incumbent and he started the race with nearly $10 million in the bank. This book gives a clear picture of who Elizabeth Warren is and what she stands for.

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