Review: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

I’m not really in Alyssa Mastromonaco’s target audience for Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?  but I quite enjoyed it. She’s pretty clear that this is a combination memoir of her time in the White House with the Obama administration and an inspirational work for young women who want to blaze these kinds of trails.  Her resume marks her as an overachiever – one of the youngest women to work at as high a position in an executive administration as she occupied. In addition to coordinating Obama’s appointments for years, she ran the emergency response to Hurricane Sandy.

There are many such memoirs, especially as administrations turn over, and I pass over the vast majority of them.  Many of them are primarily interesting to political aspirants.  I’m not really one of those, but Mastromonaco caught my ear when she appeared with Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood on Make Me Smart. She sounded particularly genuine and interesting. I picked up her book based on that.

Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? lives up to her introduction. It distinguishes itself through her clear and compelling writing voice. It is rare to hear someone who is both as honest as she is about private areas of her life that many share and as engaging about her unique experiences in the high levels of government.  She’s also aware enough to notice the difference.  As a result, the relateable human who talks to us about quitting a wrong job is the same one telling us about the President of the United States thanking her for years of service.  As an inspirational and aspirational piece that relatability makes it unsurpassed.

As I say, I don’t get the full intended effect.  I’m not a young person – especially a young woman – just setting out into the world.  I do hear a genuine, expressive, compassionate, truthful voice narrating a unique life and drawing valuable insight from it.  And she’s fun to listen to as well.


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