By Jennifer Close
Rating: 4/5 Stairs
Publication Date: 19 July 2016
The Hopefuls opens in 2009. Newly elected President Obama is in office, and Beth has just moved to Washington, D.C. to join her husband Matt. Matt – who has always had a dream of running for public office – gave up his job as a lawyer in New York City to join the Obama campaign, and his enthusiasm for politics haven’t stopped since, happily accepting an entry-level position with the hopes of moving on up.
Beth hates D.C. I mean, she really hates it. She misses New York City, and is snubbed by everyone once they realize she does not have a job that involves politics. She is completely miserable, until they meet Ash and Jimmy, recent transplants from Texas. Soon the foursome are best friends that do everything together. But Beth starts to notice some cracks in their friendship – Jimmy moves up the politico ladder with ease, while Matt struggles with each rung.
We follow Beth and Matt’s marriage (and the politics) through the end of 2014. This six year portrait is a unique look into the lives of up-and-coming politicians, or at least those who are hopeful to one day be a candidate for an office. Through Beth’s eyes, we get a glimpse into the dynamics of the people, their relationships, and the jealousies of both the pecking order and the opportunities afforded to some but not others. The Hopefuls provides a look into what politics does to relationships, both friendships and marriages.
Obviously, Washington, D.C. is the setting, but it is also almost a character. Ms. Close notes that the city itself is a temporary stay for most of these transplants – when the politicians change, so do the residents. With every election comes a new group of people, with new hopes and dreams. Ms. Close also has great quotes about the city to begin each section of the book. (My favorite was probably “Washington is a very easy city for you to forget where you came from and why you got there in the first place.” – Harry Truman.)
I did see some reviewers who commented that they found Beth to be an unlikable character. I didn’t feel that way at all. I enjoyed Beth’s perspective, sitting on the sidelines and observing the political machine moving on around her. As Matt’s political aspirations dominate more and more of their marriage, I really felt for her. You know me and spoilers, so I won’t say more here except that I felt like she gave up a lot for Matt.
A lot of great quotes in this book, I couldn’t narrow it down to just one, so here’s three I really liked. Click on the image to read them in full size.
Overall, an interesting read – especially with the presidential election coming up – to think about the families behind the scenes. Not just those running for office, but all those working to get them elected. And the relationships formed and destroyed in the process.
Many thanks to First to Read, who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.