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Reckless: The Outrageous Lives of Nine Kick-Ass Women Paperback – September 19, 2005
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Although the book obviously caters to an audience of women, it is not just a feminist celebration of strong, independent ladies. In many ways, Reckless is an open call for anyone, men as well as women, to find the guts to defy social expectations in an effort to live out one's dreams. Gender issues are clearly an important part of the book, but the main theme is a celebration of the courage needed to step out into the unknown and create our own destinies. All the ladies featured here offer excellent, albeit very different, examples of people who don't simply pay homage to these ideals, but put them in practice. Mattioni is not selling a product or trying to convince everyone to follow "her way." Rather, by showing the variety in the experience of these women, she is inviting the readers to find their own personal way to a fulfilling life.
In theory, this concept may not be particularly original. Most feel-good movies and books celebrate the hero who creates his/her own destiny. But in reality the number of people who actually do this, and live their days without regrets are so few as to make a book like this appear as the antidote to all the negative social conditionings we are fed on a daily basis. On the road to doing what they want in life, in fact, the ladies in the book overcome tremendous pressures of people inviting them to give up their ideals and be more realistic.
Overall, the book is beautifully written and very enjoyable to read. Great topic, great style, great stories. My only regret is that Mattioni should have told us more about her own life, since she seems to be as tough and courageous as any of the women she describes.
I found particularly stimulating the story of Polly Matzinger, a former Playboy Bunny and sheep-dog trainer turned into a successful scientist (she is now at the head of a laboratory at the NIH): a trail of life that in a country like mine (Italy), where career paths still lack of flexibility and imagination, would have hardly been possible.