Born in 1959 to a middle-class family, Laurence Barraque grows up with her sister in the northern city of Rouen. Her father is a doctor, her mother a housewife. She understands from an early age, by way of language and her parents’ example, that a girl’s place in life is inferior to a boy’s: Asked for the 1964 census whether he has any children, her father promptly responds, ‘No. I have two daughters.’ When Laurence eventually becomes a mother herself in the 90s, she grapples with the question of what it means to be a girl, to have a girl, and what lessons she should try to pass down or undo. Masterful in her analysis of the subtle and obvious ways women are undermined by a sexist society, Camille Laurens lays out her experiences of the past forty years in this poignant, powerful book. Girl is at once intimate and sweeping in its depiction of the great challenges we face, such as equalizing the education system and transmitting feminist values to the younger generations.
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