Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House

Alyssa Mastromonaco & Lauren Oyler | 2017 | 244 Pages 

Where was this book when I was an impressionable youth who had no idea what to do with their life?

Call it a quarter-life crisis, or at least an introspection, but I’ve recently picked up several books and podcasts from individuals with amazing careers that I never knew existed, and boy have they made me both jealous, and eager to go back in time. They traverse the globe, change the world, and in the case of Mastromonaco, meet the queen and pope. I met Alex Trebek once. I have the picture in my office. It’s not especially impressive.

That’s not to say that your ability to enact change dwindles when you cross thirty- far from it. I only mean to state that any young girl trying to figure out how she can impact the world should read this book and take its messages to heart. Maybe she’ll be inspired to pursue a path she never contemplated before.

I’ve seen Alyssa Mastromonaco compared to Mindy Kaling in her writing style, and I agree with that sentiment. The book wavers between autobiographical details, historical events, and career advice, creating a quasi-memoir for the political set rather than the Hollywood one (though Kaling does actually appear funnily enough). The former deputy chief of staff for Barack Obama writes about topics ranging from global crises to tampon dispensers with her own entertaining, amusing, but altogether inspiring voice. It’s a beautiful, funny, and impactful look at how one woman played such a vital role in the greatest office in the world.

Mastromonaco herself even defines her inspiration for penning the project- “I also wanted to write this book because I didn’t see anything like it out there.” While there are certainly political books authored by women, I’ve yet to read one from the perspective of someone in this particular individual’s position. Her unique role as Deputy Cheif of Staff, her road map on how she got there, and the advice that she is able to give in hindsight all set this text apart. And do I need to mention yet again how funny it is?

So please, all you 19-year-old history majors. And especially you ladies at UW. When you head back to Madison in a few weeks and are contemplating where to take your L&S Degree, snag this book, pull up a terrace chair, and dive in. Maybe it will inspire your own plans to change the world.

Final Verdict – 4 Feathers