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All the Gold Stars: Reimagining Ambition and the Ways We Strive

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From journalist and author of An Ordinary Age, an examination, dismantling, and reconstruction of ambition, where burnout is the symptom of our holiest sin: the lonely way we strive.

Ambition--the want, the hunger, the need to achieve--is woven into America's fabric from the first colonization to capitalism. From our first gold star assignment to acceptance at the "right" college to hustle and grinding our lives, we celebrate our drive, even as we gatekeep who is permitted to strive--and how visibly. Even as we burn out. When we can't even. When we know: work won't love us back.

All the Gold Stars looks at how the cultural, personal, and societal expectations around ambition are driving the burnout epidemic by funneling our worth into productivity, limiting our imaginations, and pushing us further apart. Through the devastating personal narrative of her own ambition crisis, Stauffer discovers the common factors driving us all, peeling back layers of family expectations, capitalism, and self-esteem that dangerously tie up our worth in our output. Interviews with students, parents, workers, psychologists, labor organizers, and more offer a new definition of ambition and the tools to reframe our lives around true success. All the Gold Stars provides ways for us to reject our current reality and reconceive ambition as more collective, imaginative, and rooted in caring for ourselves and each other.

Author: Rainesford Stauffer
Binding Type: Hardcover
Publisher: Hachette Go
Published: 06/06/2023
Pages: 288
Weight: 0.85lbs
Size: 8.30h x 5.80w x 1.20d
ISBN: 9780306830334


Review Citation(s):
Publishers Weekly 02/20/2023
Library Journal 03/01/2023 pg. 148

About the Author

Rainesford Stauffer is an author, journalist, speaker, and Kentuckian. She's the Work in Progress columnist for Teen Vogue, and wrote a column for Catapult, Gold Stars. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Scalawag, DAME Magazine, Vox, and other publications. She is the author of An Ordinary Age, and is a 2022-2023 Rosalynn Carter Fellow for Mental Health Journalism.