CAN'T IS NOT AN OPTION by Nikki Haley

CAN'T IS NOT AN OPTION

My American Story

KIRKUS REVIEW

South Carolina’s governor stakes out her red-blooded American credentials in a by-the-numbers memoir.

Haley, as was reported back when she briefly made the news, was born Randhawa, the child of Punjabi immigrants. Since her father wore a turban and her kin looked different from the other denizens of the Piedmont, she suffered all the expected abuse and racism of the time and place. Apparently she never considered the political leanings of her tormentors in that redder-than-red state, though, because she jumped into GOP politics once she had the self-described epiphany that people listened to her when she talked. Perhaps that affiliation was merely the product of some perceived sense of loyalty, for the sense we get is that Randhawa/Haley has long gone along to get along: “I got a scholarship to go to Clemson to study textile management. Cotton, wool, and silk weren’t really my areas of interest, but I thought, Fine, I’ll do it. I just wanted to go to Clemson.” Haley’s approach to politicking is homespun and commonsensical: Ply the audience with Krispy Kremes, win over legislators by doing small favors, profess to love “the people.” On the personal front, she allows that she doesn’t watch TV or read newspapers at home so that her children aren’t exposed to the meanness of politics (so much for education). There’s scarcely a moment that approaches originality in these pages. Every note seems scripted, including her protestations that it’s Washington that keeps her from doing her job: Obama bad, Reagan good, etc. Haley’s prose rises above a monotonous whisper only when she gets on the subject of the Tea Party: “That’s what I love most about the Tea Party. It’s drawing the line on government arrogance and overspending with the taxpayers’ money.”

If you’re a fellow traveler, this is your book. If not, you likely won’t pick it up.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59523-085-0
Page count: 250pp
Publisher: Sentinel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2012




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