Forgetting to Be Afraid

  • by Wendy Davis
  • Narrated by Hillary Huber
  • 10 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Wendy Davis has had her share of tough fights. Raised by a single mother with a ninth-grade education, Davis began working after school at age fourteen to contribute to the family finances. By the time she was nineteen, she was living in a trailer park with a baby daughter and holding down two jobs. But rather than succumb to the cycle of poverty that threatened to overwhelm her, Davis managed to attend community college and Texas Christian University, graduate from Harvard Law School, and go on to serve nine years on the Fort Worth City Council. She set her sights on the Texas state senate—and in 2008 defeated a longtime GOP incumbent in a race widely considered one of the biggest recent upsets in Texas politics.
But it wasn’t until June 2013 that the rest of America was acquainted with the spirited Texas state senator. Davis became an overnight political sensation and a hero to women’s rights supporters across the country when she single-handedly filibustered Governor Rick Perry’s sweeping bill that aimed to close all but five abortion clinics in her state. During her historic nearly thirteen hours on the floor of the state legislature, Davis wasn’t allowed to eat, drink, sit, use the bathroom, speak off topic, or lean against any furniture. When it was over, President Obama tweeted support to his millions of Twitter followers, and Wendy Davis—with her pink sneakers—was suddenly a household name.
She is now the first Democrat to make a serious run for governor of Texas in two decades, and her personal story is a testament to the enduring power of the American dream and an inspiration to countless women looking for a way out of desperate circumstances. Told in her own refreshingly forthright voice, Forgetting to be Afraid is the exhilarating and deeply moving story behind one of the nation’s brightest young political stars.


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Raise Your Hand, Raise Your Voice

June 25, 2013 was an unexpected and thrilling day for my family. That afternoon, I'd idly been scrolling through Twitter and started to see posts about a filibuster of an anti-choice bill in the Texas State Senate. Intrigued, I kept an eye on the feed, #StandwithWendy. My sis, D--, lives in (and loves) Austin, so we started texting each other. NPR mentioned it.

When I got home, I turned on every CSPAN and news channel I could find. Nothing at all. I knocked urgently on my 16 year old son's door. "I can't find it!" I yelled. "What, what?" he asked. He'd spent the last two years locked in his room, listening to alternafe music and guarding his privacy. I explained, and intrigued, he went to his gaming computer and found the feed on YouTube. We sat together and watched, texting his Aunt D-- I kept screen shots of some of those messages. From me to D--: "Yell as loud as you can it's working" and "Keep yelling they can't take roll". From D-- to me: "Dude I'm deaf and mute" and "No one is leaving here" after rumors of post-midnight arrests.

My son got to see what a real, live participatory democracy is. I was looking up the Texas Senate Rules and sending them to D-- so we could try and find out if SB 5 had passed, so he got to see how what seems like abstract rules really work. He also got to see the low side of politics like the egregious change of time on records. It might have worked - except for the 200,000 people following it on social media.

Obviously, I was going to read/listen to "Forgetting to be Afraid" (2014). The actual filibuster is paper Chapter 19/Audible Chapter 20. It answers many questions I had, such as, "Why was that particular bill in front of the Texas Senate on the last day of term?" "What happened to the audio feed?" It wasn't a technical glitch after all. Arse, "How did she make it 13 hours without going to the bathroom?" I know the answer now, and it was almost TMI - but a better solution than the one of thought of.

There's no surer way to get me to prod me into an immediate read than to have the press argue about what the writer said. It worked for me with Robert Gates' "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War" (2014). I wouldn't have read/listened if the pundits hadn't argued about it - and it was fantastic. And Hillary Rodham Clinton's "Hard Choices" (2014) - that I would have listened to eventually, but not as soon as I did. I guess it proves the truism: all publicity is good publicity.

The book is, in and of itself and aside from the abortion issue, controversial. It wouldn't be if the facts were considered and repeated in context. Yes, Wendy Davis had an abortion. Actually, by medical definition, she had two: one to terminate a never-viable ectopic pregnancy, and the other to stop the agonized suffering of a much wanted and loved daughter, Tate Elise, who was not going to be able to live outside of Senator Davis' uterus. And it is true that she and her husband divorced after he helped put her through law school, but the divorce was more than a decade after she graduated.

As to the actual story, it's more interesting than most. Davis wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth - it was more like a plastic spork. And the trailer park story - yes, it's true.

As to writing style - it was more Harvard than Texas. Personally, I prefer the twang. I was about to criticize the narrator's pronounciation of Spanish words, but I decided to check first, and discovered that Texas Spanish isn't necessarily the same as California/Mexican Spamish. Especially when it comes to "San Jacinto".

The title of this review is from a quote of Leticia Van de Putte, a fellow senator who famously said, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

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- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""

Texas, oh Texas.

How to express what this book means to me, to my loved ones, to my Texas? If you think you know the whole story, I promise you, you don't. If you are a woman or love a woman, or have a sister or daughter or mother, you need to read this book.

Read it to gain understanding of what happens to women because they are women. Read it for inspiration on education. Read it for a very interesting civics/ government lesson. Read it for the inside story on the dramatic filibuster last year. It will sadden you, inspire you, and fill you with hope. It might even make you mad enough to stand up and do something.

There are not many Wendy Davises out there. I don't think I could have done what she did. And I worry for my daughter's generation as they face no choices in Texas (unless the USSCT intervenes). Most women, especially now in battleground Texas, will not be able to rise above and gain education rather than sink in the hopelessness of poverty like modern day Fantines.

Stay with me for a minute as I go to that place that ties us all up - with good reason - but I have a different point. Did you know that as of this month there are less than 8 open abortion clinics in the state of Texas? And that we lawyers are already hearing of girls - who can afford it - going to Oklahoma? Texas is about to have a baby boom. We have balanced our budget by: cutting funding to education, to women's clinics and needs, and to the poor. We have refused the federal government's Medicaid plan. And we have closed down abortion clinics. (I guarantee you that we are headed back to the back room very dangerous abortion days. I'm not talking morality here. I'm just being pragmatic). We are a border state. And now we are about to have a baby boom. Can someone please tell me what is the plan if we continue in this course? What are we going to do with these huddled masses, these poor? Deny them healthcare. Deny them education. (Welcome to the state that ranks 49th. But hey! We have some fantastic football stadiums!) And ensure that their reproduction rate soars. Keep them in their place. The Perfect Storm. Unless we learn to speak up like this person has.

Women -and you men who love us- we have got to stop being silent and ignoring the issues. This is the wakeup call. The title of the book is perfect because so many women are afraid, for good reason. I know it took me a long time to learn to not be afraid, and I'm still learning it. This book has helped me on that journey.
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- SydSavvy "The Book Snob for Paris Life Magazine."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-09-2014
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio