This is a spoiler-free review.
A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions by Sheena Boekweg
Expected publication June 1st, 2021 by Feiwel & Friends.
Behind every powerful man is a trained woman, and behind every trained woman is the Society. It started with tea parties and matchmaking, but is now a countrywide secret. Gossips pass messages in recipes, Spinsters train to fight, and women work together to grant safety to abused women and children. The Society is more than oaths—it is sisterhood and purpose.
In 1926, seventeen-year-old Elsie is dropped off in a new city with four other teenage girls. All of them have trained together since childhood to become the Wife of a powerful man. But when they learn that their next target is earmarked to become President, their mission becomes more than just an assignment; this is a chance at the most powerful position in the Society. All they have to do is make one man fall in love with them first.
Content Warnings: anxiety, panic attacks, death
Thank you to Turn the Page Tours and the publisher, Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, for providing me with an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.
“A rebellion so quiet we’d left no room for a response.”
A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions imagines a reality where behind every important decision in history stood the Society: a secret group of women working in the shadows to influence political leaders of the world to make the right decision and move society into a better, more progressive future.
Enter Elsie, she’s been trained all her life to be the Wife to one of these influential men. But she can’t help having ambitions of her own. Ones that would mean stepping away from the shadows and into the limelight herself.
But when she finds out her most recent target is intended to become the next POTUS, she can’t help contemplating what a marriage to him might do for her status, not just in the Society, but on a grander scale. First, though, she has to make him fall in love with her.
“I would fight for a future that was as big as my ambitions.”
I was so excited to read A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions when I first heard about it. The premise immediately struck me, and really made me sit up and take notice. A secret society of influential women guiding the progression of civilization for the better by marrying and raising powerful men? Sign me up!
Elsie herself was such a great character to explore this world through too. She was smart, ambitious and driven in her own right. A big part of her storyline focused on her internal battle between doing what she was told to do and what she wanted for herself. She’d been raised to demonstrate all the things that made an ideal woman: soft, caring, nurturing, demure – and that’s exactly what people saw when they looked at her. But inside she was hiding an untenable storm of change and progress. And she had to decide if she ought to unleash it, or keep it tethered forever.
I love how she questioned the Society itself and challenged whether making progress by not stepping on any toes was ever truly enough. Real progress is confrontational, it’s uncomfortable, and Elsie understood that. This book was as enthralling as it was inspirational. I adored the atmosphere and historical setting. All the women in it were really enjoyable, interesting, and unique. I loved how in the end even the least likeable of them showed they could be redeemed, and band together for the greater good and womanhood alike. 💪💥
“Maybe the point of life was to make the right people angry. Then at least you knew you’ve stood for something.”
About the Author
Sheena Boekweg grew up reading books with tree branches peeking over her shoulder. Her novels Glitch Kingdom and A Sisterhood of Secret Ambitions, both with Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, feature fat positive girls with ambitions, love stories, and sometimes battle axes. She’s a contributor to Every Body Shines, a fat-positive anthology publishing May 2021 with Bloomsbury, and is an alumni of the 2015 Pitch Wars Program and was a Pitch Wars mentor in 2017, 2018, and currently in 2020. Sheena believes that beauty is intrinsic and worth is unquestionable, and thinks you can’t solve all problems with food, but it will always help.
She is well loved by a tall man with a great beard, her three kids, and the world’s most spoiled puppy. Visit her online at boekwegbooks.com, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SheenaBoekweg. She’s represented by Jessica Sinsheimer at Context Literary.
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