I was super excited to read The Hopefuls because it’s all about life in Washington, D.C. I live about 70 miles northwest of D.C., or “over the mountain,” as us Shenandoah Valley folks call it, so I was looking forward to reading something about a city with which I’m somewhat familiar. The vast majority of people with whom I went to college moved to D.C. after graduation, mainly because of the multitude of jobs, but I always had the feeling I’d despise living there. This book absolutely reaffirms that!
Now, let me be clear: the author certainly never bashes D.C. whatsoever, and neither am I. But, her story vividly describes the intense political and social scene, which really just isn’t my cup of tea. I’ve never been into social status, who’s who, or what’s next on the ladder of success. And I could really give a shit about your impressive sounding title or where you rank on the GS pay scale. But, for the movers and shakers of politics, I guess there is no place quite like “The District!”
I checked this book out from the 7-day rental collection at the library on Saturday. I was so paranoid that I wouldn’t finish by the time it was due, that I spend most of my weekend reading. I ended up finishing in two days! Which is pretty successful for me, as I don’t consider myself the fastest reader. That, in itself, is a testament to how enthralled I became in this book. No library fines for me!
The Hopefuls, by Jennifer Close, begins with Beth and Matt Kelly’s move to D.C. from New York City. Matt is a former employee of the Obama campaign, trying to make a political name for himself and eventually run for office. Beth is an unemployed journalist yearning for her life back in the Big Apple. Not having a career in politics makes Beth feel like an outsider in the District, and she is struggling to find her place to fit in, both socially and professionally.
When Beth and Matt meet Texas-born Ashleigh and Jimmy Dillon, it instantly seems like a match made in double-date heaven. Jimmy works for President Obama’s “advance team” and Ash is somewhat, casually, not really looking for a job herself. Beth and Ash quickly become best friends, despite their many differences and in light of their mutual exclusion from “The Hill.” The women pass their days lounging poolside and exploring the Smithsonian, while Matt and Jimmy rise through the ranks together in the White House.
However, Jimmy’s star soon begins to rise faster than Matt’s, leading to increased pressure amongst the foursome and strained relationships all the way around. The tension reaches its explosion point when Jimmy runs for office in Texas and hires Matt to be his campaign manager.
The Hopefuls was vivid peek into life in the cutthroat world of politics and the emotions of the family members of politicians, who are often unwillingly thrown into the public eye.
While in some places void of true action or drama, The Hopefuls kept my attention and interest throughout with its humor, candor, and relatable characters. I recommend this for a quick and easy read, especially for those of us wanting to know a little bit more about life on “the other side of the mountain.”
4 out of 5 stars.