The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

“We cannot solve our most intractable problems unless we are honest about what they are, unless we are willing to have difficult conversations and accept what facts make plain.”

Upon the groundbreaking milestone of Kamala Harris becoming the first woman, first Black, and first South Asian American to serve as vice president-elect of the United States, I made it a priority to get my hands on her book The Truths We Hold. In this book, Harris recounts memories of her upbringing, including the monumental role social justice played in her life from a young age; chronicles her career path from prosecutor, to district attorney, to attorney general, to U.S. senator, to vice president-elect; and asserts truths behind key issues affecting our world today.

Throughout the text, Harris stresses how she is motivated by the opportunity to give those without voices fair and just representation in government and, thereby, in the laws and policies governing their everyday lives. Upon finishing, I was inspired by the ways in which Harris has used her various positions of power to be a voice for the people she represented, despite the countless frustrations and setbacks she faced. No matter who may have doubted her or her ideas, she did what she knew needed to be done to serve and truly represent those counting on her.

I also appreciated the humanistic lens applied to this text. Rather than just write about her views on issues on a broad and general scale, Harris illustrated the human beings who she was able to help by listening to their stories and directly responding to their needs. From representing sexual assault victims, to creating initiatives aimed at reforming the criminal justice system, to helping pass legislation at the federal level to ensure the legality and legitimacy of same-sex marriage in the state of California, Harris’ experience and work has not only served as models for other states, but has also demonstrated her true passion for helping those who need help with the power she possesses. Additionally, she has blazed a path for up-and-coming women of all backgrounds and will undoubtedly inspire countless women to participate in U.S. government and politics.

At its conclusion, Harris takes the time to consider some of the truths she herself has learned from her experience in government over the years and one of the most powerful of these is this: “You may be the first. Don’t be the last.” Reading this immediately gave me goose bumps, as she used those very words in her address upon becoming vice president-elect with respect to her becoming the first woman to hold this office. She is truly an inspirational figure and this book was definitely one of the most interesting and motivational titles I have read this year.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Book on CD

Overdrive eAudiobook

Overdrive eBook

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner tells a story that seems all too familiar right now:  a politician is caught cheating on his loyal wife of three decades.  Sylvie, the wronged and distraught wife, isn’t sure what to do with herself, since her life has been solely about helping her husband with his political career for their entire marriage.  This book tells the story of how she, along with her daughters Diana and Lizzie, cope with the senator’s indescretions.  Sylvie finds solace, and unexpected company, when she decides to cope at her family’s old summer house in Connecticut.  The story gets complicated, since Sylvie’s daughters are going through troubles of their own when the scandal breaks:  Lizzie has just gotten through with another stint in rehab, and Diana is stuck in a loveless marriage and has responded by carrying on her own extramarital affair.

What I love about Jennifer Weiner’s books is that the characters are real and relatable.  They are flawed, and they remind you of people you know.  This is the case with this book.  It feels like a scandal ripped from the headlines, but with enough personality and emotion that you feel like you know Sylvie and want nothing more than to comfort her and tell her to be strong.  But my favorite character had to be Lizzie.  Though she struggled through a lot, she worked hard to overcome her demons and make a good life for herself and anyone else who surprisingly came along….

If you haven’t read them yet, I highly recommend checking out some of Jennifer Weiner’s other books, including In Her Shoes, which was later adapted into a hit movie starring Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz as sisters Rose and Maggie.  But my personal favorite of Jennifer Weiner’s works (and the favorite of so many other women I know) is Good In Bed.  The book is about a plus-sized woman who finds out her boyfriend is writing about her and her size in his column (titled Good In Bed) in a Cosmo-like magazine.  The book is both witty and emotional, and I kind of wanted to be Cannie’s best friend by the end.  Pick up any one of Jennifer Weiner’s books, and I bet you won’t be disappointed.