Lois Duncan's DAUGHTERS OF EVE is one of my favorite YA reads. It’s also one of those rare books I could read more than once and with each reading, I can gain a new insight about what I think Lois is trying to say. (Side note: I just skimmed through the “modernized” version of the book. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Updating a book is unnecessary. Giving a classic a makeover is like plugging a helicopter into Van Gogh’s Starry Night.)
The book is about a group of high school girls who join a sorority called Daughters of Eve, led by a charismatic and matronly advisor named Irene. Irene influences the girls, having varying experiences with the boys and men in their lives, to distrust and hate men. Only the reader knows that Irene’s bitterness stems from her own personal disappointments.
Irene successfully manipulates the girls to “fight back against oppression” through anonymous acts of violence, which begin with a brutal gang attack on a boy.
DAUGHTERS OF EVE is about one group justifying its questionable behavior with the argument that they are fighting for respect. The book also shows that one can make a heroic show of standing up to bigotry and promoting a cause, all while being a despicable person at the same time. This is not a feel-good revenge story but a warning tale about a self-serving leader and her naive followers.
The original book was published in 1979 and its portrait of mob mentality still rings true today. I would even go as far as to say that reading DAUGHTERS OF EVE in my youth helped cultivate this tiny bit of self-awareness: I can wholeheartedly support a cause but not be a fan of an Irene-like individual or entity that has postured themselves as a leader of the movement. I can also be in disagreement with the approach followers of a like-minded cause take to handle non-supporters when it involves bullying or hypocrisy masked as “standing up for the right thing.”
What books, fiction or non-fiction, have raised your awareness about the dangers of Irene-like leaders and their followers?