Cover Image: We Demand

We Demand

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Member Reviews

An astounding book about the struggle women faced to get the vote and the three who decided to try and make a difference. It was unheard of at the time for women to travel across the country alone, but they managed to do it while also picking signatures up along the way to try and get the 19th amendment ratified. 

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
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I enjoyed this book and learnt a lot about the suffrage movement in the USA, however, I think there was a bit too much going on - some characters/storylines seemed to be shoe-horned in just to make a point of including diverse voices. 

The journey itself took forever and did become a bit repetitive in parts (e.g. descriptions of the car, of Sarah's illness) but the hardships and adventures they faced on the way were well-written (the snow storm, getting lost in the desert). 

I think more attention could have been paid to the characters, their stories and relationships with each other rather than the journey. 

It's a good story and one that I will recommend to my students as a way to extend their knowledge of life in the USA at that time and how it varied for women from state to state.
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We Demand: The Suffrage Road Trip
By Anne B. Gass
Maine Authors Publishing, 27 April 2021

From the publisher:

Swedish immigrants Ingeborg Kindstedt and Maria Kindberg visit San Francisco in the summer of 1915, planning to buy a car and explore the country on their way back to their home in Rhode Island. On impulse, they offer to bring with them suffragists heading to Washington DC to demand voting rights for women from Congress and the President. Soon they are plunged into a difficult and dangerous journey that pushes them to the very limits of their endurance.

As they travel they encounter unexpected allies, and those opposed to women’s growing independence. Bad roads and harsh weather hinder their progress. Will they overcome these obstacles and arrive in DC at the appointed day and time?

We Demand is a tribute to the grit and determination of the women who made the trip, and to the suffrage movement that launched it. 

My thoughts:

This is a timely book considering the recent anniversary of the 19th amendment. It relates the history of the journey taken by Ingebork Kindstedt and Maria Kindberg and what precipitated the trip across the US. It was a difficult, but memorable trip. Along the way, they got me meet Alice Paul, one of the most famous suffragists in the country.

This book by Anne B. Gass is a decent read, but I didn’t realize it would be in the format of creative nonfiction. I mistakenly thought it was a non-fiction book, so I was disappointed. If you don’t mind the fiction format, this is a well-written, well-researched book. It includes little-known history of the suffrage movement and women whose work for suffrage is not as well-known as some, and for that history it is worth reading.

Thanks to NetGalley and Maine Authors Publishing for the ARC.
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Thank you netgalley for the e-arc

I didn’t know I needed a historical fiction about working-class lesbian suffragettes until I read this book. I absolutely loved this story.

The stories of Ingeborg Kindstedt and Maria Kindberg are truly fascinating and I wish more was known about them. There’s a great section at the end where the author separates the fact from fiction. It’s such a shame that the majority of suffragettes who made history were upper class women. 

There are some amazing names found in this story, from prominent Union members and lawyers, to black suffragettes like Ida B. Wells. The trip to D.C. was not glamorous and Gass does a great job of showing the many indignities that suffragettes had to deal with as they worked for a better future. 

I would absolutely recommend this book, I can’t believe there’s not more hype around it already.
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We Demand: The Suffrage Road Trip by Anne Glass is a fresh look at another small piece of the suffrage movement. In 1915, three women accepted the task of driving a petition to Washington, D.C. demanding the vote for women. Ingeborg Kindstedt and Maria Kindberg own the vehicle, and Ingeborg handles all the mechanical issues. Sara Bard Field is the speaker for the Congressional Union for Women's Suffrage, or CU, who sponsors the trip. The point of the petition is to rally support for a federal law allowing women to vote. The rival women’s group, National American Woman Suffrage Association, prefers to work state by state. Although I am familiar with the suffrage movement, and have an ancestor who participated, I didn’t know about this road trip. I was interested in the story, and blown away by the layers the author created.

On the surface, this is a trip by three women, a speaker, a driver, and a mechanic. The trip features stops where they collect more signatures and speak, as well as harrowing detours, delays, and accidents. It becomes apparent that although all three women are suffragettes, their individual motivations differ. Sarah, the wealthy and slightly built speaker, is in love with a married man thirty years her senior. The other two are Swedish immigrants and lovers. Ingeborg, the mechanic, forcefully pushes for equality for all women. Marie, the driver, is a homebody who wants to vote, but also wants to get home. The politics and personal preferences of these three women color their relationship throughout the book.

Politics is a big deal when you are talking about influencing a vote. The two women’s associations have the same goal, but tussle over how to get it done. Along the way, the intrepid travelers meet women who don’t want to vote and fight against allowing any woman to vote. I loved when Ingeborg told them they should stay home, then, and let those who want to vote do so. The three women also encounter male politicians who use the suffrage issue to enhance their campaigns, whether they support it or not. Ingeborg is distressed when she learns that neither women’s organization supports giving the vote to Black women, citing that the added controversy would certainly sink the effort. 

Ingeborg goes out of her way to reach out to Black suffrage groups. She can sense how disenfranchised these women feel because she feels increasingly ignored in favor of Sarah as the trip progresses. Ingeborg and Maria are never allowed to speak at the gatherings, and they are ignored in the press coverage. They are immigrants and somehow below the efforts of the association. Ingeborg realizes that at least she and Maria are in the car, while Black women aren’t allowed on the street.

The bravery of these women didn’t mean much to the vote in 1916. It wasn’t until 1920, and lots of efforts by hundreds of women, that the 19th amendment passed. Nevertheless, this glimpse of a piece of the struggle adds to our understanding of the time period. This book is highly recommended for its historical value as well as its entertaining style.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC copy of this book.
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We Demand: The Suffrage Road Trip by Anne B. Glass is a fabulous historical fiction novel that depicts the famous automobile ride from California to Washington D.C. by a group of women carrying the collection of signatures to petition for Women’s suffrage. 

This trip featuring two Swedish Immigrants, Ingeborg Kindstedt and Maria Kindberg whom own the vehicle, and Sara Bard Field, the representative for the CU. 
The whole trip ended up being orchestrated by The Congressional Union For Women Suffrage. This group was led by Alice Paul at the time as an alternative to the previously established group, the National American Woman Suffrage Association. It differed in its goal of focussing on ratifying the US Constitution and attacking the issue from a federal level, instead of trying to pass the issue state by state. 

This was fascinating. I had already known about this infamous trip, which was harrowing, difficult, and not for the faint at heart that took place in 1915 as a way to bring the petition from citizens in states that have already passed the amendment out west to the nation’s capital and President Woodrow Wilson, as well as to drum up additional attention and support, but I knew little about the other two women that were the owners of the vehicle and were the lesser known aspect of the trio. 

The author has a real talent at being able to place the reader as a passenger within the backseat of the car during the trip, and at times I found myself lost within the narrative and felt that I was really there feeling the wind, grit, sun, wind, and freezing temps whipping against my face. It is also very clear that the author has duly done her research, adding historical facts and events perfectly throughout the novel. 

This was a challenging trip, and these women were stronger and more brave then I would have been. Did it in the end win Congress over? No, not this specific trip, but it was monumental and a vitality important piece of the  foundation that was created to help eventually pass the 19th amendment. 

An excellent book. 

5/5 stars 

Thank you NG and Maine Authors Publishing for this arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my NG account immediately and will post it to my GR and Bookbub accounts as soon as an account has been created and my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
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