Ronald Reagan’s former personal assistant reminisces.
Grande was a senior at Pepperdine University when she was offered a position as an intern in Reagan’s office in Century City, California. It was the summer of 1989, and Reagan had only been out of office for a few months. The author ended up working for him for 10 years, quickly rising to become executive assistant to the former president. About halfway through her tenure, Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and her job evolved to accommodate the former president's declining abilities. By the time she left her post, she was married with three children, and Reagan was no longer able to come into the office at all. From her position, Grande had an unparalleled opportunity to observe Reagan promoting his legacy as a vigorous ex-president and then struggling against a disease that he knew would ultimately force a retirement from public life. She undertook some unusual responsibilities at a relatively early age. Unfortunately, she lacks the objectivity and discernment necessary to produce an insightful view into either Reagan's situation or her own. From the beginning, she was, and remains, utterly star-struck by Reagan; her narrative bubbles over with the reverent enthusiasm of a teenager with a backstage pass to a Justin Bieber concert. Ron and Nancy both appear as paragons of public and private virtue, everyone on their staff always pulled together to achieve logistical miracles, and so forth. The author appears as an appealing character—self-deprecating, gaining in confidence and ability, eager to assist a boss for whom she feels equal parts awe and genuine affection—but her occasional poignant observations about coping with Alzheimer's or maturing in her job are overwhelmed by an onrushing tide of uplifting anecdotes.
Relentlessly positive in tone, Grande's narrative never dives deeply enough to reward readers’ time.