Jarrett's brisk, even-tempered memoir follows the former senior adviser to President Barack Obama from a childhood spent first in Iran and then in Chicago through her experiences during Obama's two terms in office.
The author’s parents moved to Iran in 1955 because her father knew that as a black physician, he would have better opportunities there than in the United States. She was born there the next year, and five years later, the family returned to Chicago, where her mother's large extended family lived. After law school and a stint in corporate law, she began working in Chicago city government. In 1991, while she was working as Mayor Richard Daley's deputy chief of staff, she hired a young Michelle Robinson, then Barack Obama's fiancee. She went on to become friends with Robinson and Obama and worked on Obama's campaign before serving in the White House. Jarrett also shares her personal struggles: escaping a difficult marriage, raising a daughter on her own, overcoming a fear of public speaking, enduring menopause, and experiencing the pressure “to work twice as hard and be twice as good as white people.” Her close relationship with the Obamas allows for an intimate view of events on the campaign trail and life in the White House. Her account of her years in the administration shifts smoothly between her own work life, including the mentoring of young female staff members, and a broader consideration of the administration's goals. She gives special consideration to the challenges of passing the Affordable Care Act, and while she clearly chooses her words carefully, her frustration with what she sees as the recalcitrant Republicans in Congress sometimes breaks through. Throughout, she emphasizes the importance of communication among people of differing political views and the necessity of change based in local communities rather than imposed on a national level.
A modest and insightful addition to a growing shelf of books by insiders from the Obama administration.