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Imagining Ourselves: Global Voices from a New Generation of Women    edited by Paula Goldman order for
Imagining Ourselves
by Paula Goldman
Order:  USA  Can
New World Library, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Imagining Ourselves: Global Voices From a New Generation of Women is a compilation of poetry, artwork, photographs, short fiction, and other writings done by women between the ages of twenty and forty from all over the world. It was compiled by Paula Goldman, a young American woman, with help from a large staff under the auspices of the International Museum of Women. Paula has a master's degree in public policy, and contacts all over the world.

A query, 'What defines your generation of women?' was sent out via email and through worldwide organizations which translated the question into many languages. The women to whom it was addressed were mostly 'well-educated, well-traveled and professionally empowered.' Although thousands of women replied, Paula and her team whittled the replies down to the best hundred and five contributions from fifty-seven countries. There are pictures of most of the young woman with brief biographical notes, next to the work that each contributed.

Isabel Allende has written a Foreword to this amazing book. There are contributions from unknown women as well as quite a few from familiar names, such as Karenna Gore Schiff, Zadie Smith, and Olympic gold medal winner Cathy Freeman.

Although I am a bit older than these women, I do have a daughter who is in her twenties, and I have always had a keen interest in women's rights both in the United States and around the world. I found the writing especially interesting from countries where women seem to have few rights at the present time, such as some African and Asian countries. There were many entries from Africa.

Two entries resonated with me, however. One was by a young woman from Spain, Lucia Etxebarria - called ''T' is for Triumph', about turning thirty. I remember so vividly the trauma of turning thirty and was amazed that this is still true for some women. I was also childless and unmarried at that age, which had something to do with my angst, and I had a good job and education as Lucia did. It seemed to me, unfortunately, as though many of her sorrows at turning thirty were still so similar to the ones I had.

The other entry that I loved was 'Mother Tongue' by Nina Cullen from Australia. Nina wrote a tribute to her mother (an immigrant to Australia from Germany), which was so loving, interesting, and fun to read. Nina writes 'My mum sang lullabies to us in German, rocking us gently to the tunes of her childhood. She bounced over vowels and pronunciation that will never seem natural to me. Now I sing words I'm not sure of to a tune that is forever soothing.'

Interspersed with the contributions are several pages of Facts and Trends, which are mostly hopeful. I finished this book feeling as though I had just completed a whole college course in worldwide modern women's studies.

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