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Reviewed by Tiffany Ferrell for Readers' Favorite
What Girls Are Good For is a fictional tale about the real-life journalist Elizabeth Cochran or, as she went by a pen name, Nellie Bly. In an era where women were expected to run the household and attend to duties of the gentler sex, Nellie, born Elizabeth Cochran, never quite fitted the mold that was expected of her. Young and ambitious, she seeks work in a field that’s meant for men. It is one of the inequalities that drive her. She believes that women should have the same opportunities and pay as men do. In the 1880s, this is still a very controversial subject, but Cochran is determined to not be just another housewife. She lands her first big break with the Pittsburgh Dispatch when she writes a refute response to a reporter who goes by the pen name of The Quiet Observer. His article basically stated that a woman’s place was in the home, which was something that Elizabeth couldn’t stand. This angry and fact-fueled rebuttal about the real struggles of women gets her an invitation to the Pittsburgh Dispatch and a position as a reporter. From the Pittsburgh Dispatch to The World newspaper, we follow the young reporter as she makes news with the real injustices that occur in their very neighborhood. These stories will eventually lead to the one that gives her worldwide notoriety; pretending to be mentally unstable in order to get into the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island...
Author David Blixt delivers a great story about Nellie before she exposes the horrors she endured during her stay at the asylum on Blackwell Island. I like how a lot of what is in the novel is true and includes actual articles and places that she went to. What makes it unique though is that we are hearing Bly’s story from her own lips. The portrayal of Nellie Bly in What Girls Are Good For is astonishing and doesn’t give you the fake twists and turns and add-ons that a lot of historical fiction does. The characters are likable and I feel that Blixt did a wonderful job of capturing Nellie’s voice and personality in his words. I would love to read more of his work. Without a doubt, the best book I have read this month!