Gina Miller was the lead claimant in the 2016 constitutional legal case against the UK Government over triggering Article 50. This book is her personal account of why she followed through and what she believes in. It is both a call-to-action and encouragement for others to take strength from her story.
Rise, Life Lessons in Speaking Out, Standing Tall, and Leading the Way covers multiple genres: part autobiography (although Elizabeth Day helped her write it), it also falls into the self-help book, and ‘how to run a successful business’ categories, with some marketing and self-promotion thrown in. Miller writes about her early upbringing and childhood in Guyana (her father was the Attorney General of the island after the fall of Burnham (link to Guyana history , and her time at school in England (she started aged 11 and lived alone with her equally underaged brother from 12) when she had to work before school and at weekends and didn’t see her parents for up to a year at a time.
Covering topics such as domestic and sexual abuse, bullying, racism and misogyny, marketing methods and storytelling to engage clients, self-belief, self-image, feeling an imposter, and feminism, she also writes extensively about being a working mother and an activist. The authors use statistics and research in these areas, and frequently make statements such as, ‘Women are more likely to question their own beliefs about what’s right and what’s wrong,’.
Miller comes across as strong, occasionally vulnerable, sensible, and, at times, clear thinking. She is ultimately a determined fighter and we get true insight into the origins of this facet of her. She has been the butt of vast amounts of private and public abuse (principally sexual and racist) and she followed up Viscount Philipps’ incitement to violence towards her on Facebook, winning the case. The more she exposes these personal injustices in the second half of the book, the more uncomfortable the tension is between the fact that she has not bought cases against most of the men who perpetrated them, whereas she continues to stand-up for others (see her True and Fair Campaign to make financial dealings as transparent and understandable as possible.
At times the writing speeds easily along (‘Social media has amplified their (abuser’s) destructive voices and created echo chambers that reinforce their views.’), and there are several touching images such as her father brushing her hair every night and telling her about his work. In other places there are mixed metaphors and a great deal of repetition, some of which serves as bolstering of important beliefs such as tolerance, or reflects the difficult issues she is struggling with (why didn’t anyone else join her in the struggle for what was right, she often asks). Often, however, it appears to be simply poor editing – phrases and words used over again.
In the end, despite the muddled style and occasional posturing, the spirit of this remarkable woman comes through, together with the sheer determination which has won her and us, important democratic and human rights.