Packaged as a self-help manual for the modern working mom, Ivanka Trump’s new book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success, hit the shelves and shipped from Amazon storerooms on Tuesday.
To avoid accusations that Ms Trump is taking advantage of her White House platform to sell books, the president’s daughter has promised to donate profits to charity and has declined to do any publicity around the release.
Reviewers of the book so far have fallen into one of two camps.
In the minds of some, Ms Trump has taken on a serious tone in her new book, showing an evolution from the young, inexperienced-but-nonetheless-successful businesswoman she was at 27, when she wrote “The Trump Card”, to a busy – so busy – married mother of three, who also happens to run the Trump empire.
Others see her new book as stunted by its class biases, which limit Ms Trump’s advice to wealthy and powerful women. These reviewers have mocked Ms Trump’s lament that she was so busy supporting her father during the 2016 campaign that she could not take time to get a massage or meditate for 20 minutes every morning.
Jennifer Senior falls in the latter camp. In her New York Times review, she writes that the entire book elucidates how well Ms Trump can extend the Trump brand at every turn, writing vaguely about controversial topics, so that no one really knows what she thinks about them, and then filling most of the book with aspiration fluff.
“It’s a strawberry milkshake of inspirational quotes,” Ms Senior writes. “Lee Iacocca appears two pages before Socrates. Toni Morrison appears one page after Estee Lauder. A quote from Nelson Mandela introduces the section that encourages women to ask for flexible work hours: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Ms Senior’s biggest complaint is that Ms Trump leaves her most substantial and practical suggestions to the very end of the book. When it comes to family leave policies, Ms Trump sticks to the views she espoused during her father’s presidential campaign, but doesn’t get there until the second to last page of her book. To Ms Senior, she is missing an opportunity to advocate for changes that might help the women she is writing for.
Fatima Goss Graves writes about the “women Ivanka ignores” in US News and World Report, Ms Trump misunderstands the barriers facing most women in America.
“No amount of personal drive and sunny approach will ease the life of a mother of two who is struggling to pay her rent and put food on the table,” Goss Graves writes.
“The how-to-succeed model in “Women Who Work” overlooks the complexities of overlapping sex and race bias that drive lower pay and fewer opportunities for many women.”
Catherine Lucey, writing for the Associated Press, found that Ms Trump “offers earnest advice for women on advancing in the workplace, balancing family and professional life and seeking personal fulfilment.”
Whether they read Ms Trump’s book as earnest advice or incognito marketing for the Trump name, almost everyone who reviewed Women Who Work agreed that a lot could be gleaned about the inner workings of the Trump family.
Ms Trump writes about her family relationships, her work load, caring for her kids, and taking time for herself. She worries about how others may perceive her life as a working mother. And she offers a look into how her father influenced her life, and how she might influence his administration.
Avoid the book if you hate the self-help genre, Maria Puente wrote for USA Today. However, she says there are other reasons to read aside from self-improvement:
“If you’re curious about Trump, 35, who’s taken an unpaid job as a senior adviser to her father, and how she might influence the Trump administration’s attitudes about women,” she writes. “you might want to lean in.”