Colleen Graves's Reviews > Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom

Wheels of Change by Sue Macy
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's review
Jul 24, 2012

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bookshelves: great-ya-books
Read in July, 2012

Macy, Sue. Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). Washington, D.C: National Geographic, 2011. Print. 96 p. 9781426307621

This historical nonfiction book analyzes the way bicycles helped empower women. It describes the first bicycles (can you believe some women actually rode bicycles side saddle?!) and it details how bicycles allowed women to ditch hoop skirts for pantaloons!

What I found really interesting is that there were many female athletes that competed and rode “centuries” daily (41). A century is a one hundred mile nonstop ride! I know bike enthusiasts today that do not endorse the same vigor.

The pictures combined with the slang and random facts made this a very interesting read. One of my favorite details was the description of Charlotte Smith. She was against cycling and she thought it drew girls “directly to sin” (32). Disheartening as this statement is, Charlotte would bash any man with an umbrella if she thought he was disrespecting a lady and apparently she thought this a lot as she “destroyed at least 5,000 umbrellas” in her lifetime (32)!

The only real weakness in the book is that the author, Sue Macy, seems to be stretching her analysis a bit to tie all of the chapters together. Many times the information does not seem coherent nor particularly empowering to women. Still, the facts, pictures, and strange stories made this an interesting a read.

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