I’ve finished one of the books I read over the change of month: in fact, I’ve finished the Pym biography, too, hooray, so two of them! This is another of the batch I bought in Oxfam last September: I have now read six of those and DNF’d one, with one left to read/finish. It’s also part of my TBR project, which I have almost but not quite achieved … (see the end of the post for the update there)

Stacey Dooley – “On the Frontline with the Women who Fight Back”

(08 September 2021, Oxfam Books, Kings Heath)

The girls were my number one priority. You need to be able to look at yourself in a mirror at the end of a day’s filming and feel totally happy with how you’ve treated those around you. You have to ask yourself, If I were in their situation, would I feel like I’ve been treated with respect? (p. 260)

I was dimly aware that Stacey Dooley made documentaries but really came across her on Strictly Come Dancing (though I don’t think we saw all that series) and her documentary series where she spends a weekend with an interesting family. This slightly older book takes us through her origin story (as an unaware, clothes-obsessed late teen, she was picked to take part in a documentary investigating sweatshops in India; she found the process of making TV fascinating and started to carve out a career doing hard-hitting documentary work) and a selection of the places she’s gone and themes she’s covered, alongside the growing respect for her work after people dismissed her as untrained, working-class and vapid. She’s really none of those things: she’s kind, relatable and pretty brave.

Covering places in developing countries, war zones and places you might not expect to find her (for example, Canada, where she goes to investigate the murders of Indigenous women and the racist treatment (or non-treatment) of their cases), Dooley goes into prisons, walks the streets with sex workers, ends up helping a young teen give birth and sees various horrific sights, and interviews murderers and paedophiles, asking the questions any ordinary person might ask. I love the way she freely admits when she changes her mind, and the bonds she builds with people and respect she has for them. She also freely admits when she hates people she has to talk to – paedophiles and murderers who basically think their victims deserve it – but also says “hate isn’t going to solve anything” and works to find out the whys and how to change things.

Her concentration is on women and children and her work is to be admired. She says she believes there is more good than bad in the world and that her job is to shine a spotlight on issues to make sure people are aware, and I think her everywoman persona really helps with that. The book is very readable, even when addressing hard topics, and definitely reads in her distinctive voice. I’m glad I picked this up.

This was TBR Challenge 2021-22 Quarter 4 Book 22/28 – 8 to go by today which was the deadline! However, I have also finished Book 23, I’m in the middle of books 24, 25 and 26 and Book 28 turns out to be the Dave Grohl book itself, so really I ended up with just one unread and am feeling good about that.