“I am living proof that the American dream still exists.” Those are the opening words of the new Female Force comic focusing on Paula Deen. The comic is one in a series that I was unfamiliar with until I received the request to review the book. The publication was already in production before the Paula Deen N-word scandal of last summer.
The 24-page book gives a highlights-only look at Paula’s life – from birth to recent scandal. It doesn’t skip the difficult points in her life like her parents’ deaths, the end of her first marriage, her subsequent agoraphobia (which I didn’t know about) or her summer of 2013 scandal. It does paint her as a strong woman who weathered her early difficulties the best she could with the help of her two sons. Of course, the book also covers her years of prosperity with her second marriage and highly successful restaurants, cookbooks and television shows.
As one of a series of female empowerment comic books, it makes sense the story ends on a hopeful note and makes sure readers know that the recent scandal is not the end of Paula’s story. I was actually left with the feeling that she’s gone through a personal hell once before and made it through so there’s no reason why she won’t make it through another ordeal. Which, I suppose is the ultimate goal of this series of books – to show women who are empowered and resilient.
I asked publisher Darren Davis if Paula Deen had authorized this book in anyway.
“No,” he responded, “But we have heard she is proud of it.” He also told me that many of the subjects of the comics embrace them and some, like Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, sign copies and send them to the publisher.
I have to say I was skeptical when I first received the offer to review the book, but after reading it and checking out the series as a whole, I’m not skeptical anymore. The series focuses on all sorts of women – entertainers, politicians (both liberal and conservative ones), authors, activists, and journalists. If all of the comics in the series are as easily readable as the Paula Deen issue, they're a great discussion starter for families with older children (maybe 4th grade and up) to talk about women's issues, resiliency in tough times, what success means, and much more, including - in the case of Paula Deen - what forgiveness is.
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