What Every Girl Should Know: Margaret Sanger’s Journey

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What Every Girl Should Know takes its title from one of Margaret Sanger’s educational pamphlets. Margaret Sanger grew up in a poor Irish immigrant family. Her mother was sick with consumption or tuberculosis. Her father was a stonecutter, who lost work because of his politics, so the older children had to work to feed the younger ones. Because her mother was sick and so often pregnant, and because they were poor, Margaret decided that if women could prevent pregnancy, poor families wouldn’t be as desperate as they are when there are many children. Margaret Sanger’s mother had eleven surviving children. Margaret had two sons and a daughter who died young.

Margaret the character complains about her chores. She doesn’t like changing diapers and she doesn’t like washing dishes and laundry. Eleven kids must make a lot of laundry! She wants to continue her education, but there is no money. She gets a job as a teacher until her family needs her to take care of her dying mother and the little children. Margaret admired her father, but she loses faith in him. Strangely, for a novel about the writer of “Family Limitation,” there is no sex in this book and no treatment of what it’s like to be a girl and become a woman. Historical Margaret thought that sexuality was a powerful liberating force, and that birth control makes sex possible without getting pregnant every time. Character Margaret just wishes there weren’t so many babies. Questions of social justice and access to medical information and medical care are still with us, just like in Sanger’s day.

Reviewed By:

Author J. Albert Mann
Star Count 3.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publish Date 2019-02-12
ISBN 9781534419322
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue July 2019
Category Young Adult


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