Girl. You ain't got to tell me this book makes you nervous. THIS BOOK MAKES ME NERVOUS. You know what though? I marched my happy ass right over to my local bookshop proud as Putin to buy my copy while wearing my IM WITH HER t-shirt, because YOU GOTTA LET THESE BITCHES KNOWWW.
Hill and I go way back. I grew up in Arkansas ... way back before you knew Arkansas was a state. Way back when the only Clinton you knew anything about was George Clinton. (I MEAN YOU DO KNOW ABOUT GEORGE, RIGHT?) Everyone jokes that the Clintons have been around forever, but if you grew up in Arkansas when I did the Clintons have been around forever plus infinity. It is with deep admiration and love I tell you I don’t remember a time without them. Bill, yes, Bill, everyone in Arkansas is on a first name basis. Bill would show up everywhere: new Wal-Mart openings, town festivals, high school and college football and basketball games, McDonald’s, your grandmother’s house for lunch. You name it he was there. He was like that one distant cousin you see all the time and nobody can explain the details of how you’re related.
His folksy charisma is undeniable, but it is Hillary who I’ve always found most fascinating. When I was in Jr. High she spoke to our class on the steps of the state capitol building and I was enraptured. I remember sitting very close and hanging on every word. She was the first lady of Arkansas, which for me at the time translated to Queen of the Universe. She also worked at a law firm my farther did business with and I frequently demanded a detailed report of her activities. Most Arkansans hated how she kept her last name, had opinions, and held a job. What can I say; my home state has never been at the forefront of modern thought, much less feminism. I didn’t care what anyone thought of her, I ate up her every word and saw her as a hero, a renegade bad ass, an example of what was possible.
Yeah. So. I'm a little bit of a Hillary fan. There's no point in rehashing the election or how she was treated or any of that mess. I have a little PTSD where all of that is concerned, and I'm sure you do to. It was rough, and I have nothing new to say about any of that, but now here's this book.
Over the last couple of weeks when I told people I was reading What Happened I was met with all sorts of faces and deep sighs. I know, I get it. What is happening in our world is deep, dark, and depressing. Why read all about that from the inside? I felt the same way as I cracked this book open. WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF. And then I read it.
Hearing her voice while reading her words was more comforting than I expected. It was like welcoming a friend home after a long journey. I needed to remember a time, just a few short months ago, where someone who knew a thing or two about the world was in charge. She opens with inauguration day. Talk about a gut punch. It was hard for me to read. It hurt, and it made me cry. That opening chapter also made me resolute. If the most powerful woman in American politics can lose a presidential election and pull it together enough to write an entire book about her experience, then I need to stop being a baby and read what she has to say about it.
Hillary has A LOT to say about it. She has 460 pages worth of things to say about it to be exact. That's a whole lot of book to read casually, especially on politics (AND GIRL I LOVE POLITICS). The book is at times as exacting and specific as the candidate herself, which honestly can be a smidge overwhelming at times. There are facts and figures and NUMBERS. While that is difficult, I tried to keep in mind that this book is not for us. This book is for future researchers and historians.
Once you're past the stats and political science heart of the book, there's a lot of information about her dreams and vision for our country, what it's like to be a female candidate, and the odds she was up against. She really spells it all out for you. We also hear all about those damned emails and James Comey. I know, I KNOW ... but it is fascinating (ie ENRAGING).
While all of this stuff is interesting, the last third of the book is really where it's at for me. If you're a person who is interested in what Hillary has to say about the election but you're not going to read a whole book about it ... this is the part to read over a couple scones at Barnes & Noble. She does outline what happened to her candidacy in a specific way, and yes it goes beyond crying about Comey. She also takes a DEEP dive into Russia and their influence over the election. I should warn you that her chapter on Russia is the scariest chapter of any book I have ever read, and I read a lot of Stephen King. Hillary also walks us through what election night was like for her. This chapter is as honest and raw as the opening of the book, and might be as close as we'll ever get to her.
Why should you read this book? You should read it by the way. Do what I did. Get into your bathtub and have a hot soak while you cry your eyes out with a glass of your favorite adult beverage. You need this book's attention to detail, so you can remember what it's like to have someone in charge who cares about facts. More than anything though, you need this book to help you figure out what to do next. She even asks that in the books final moments. What are we supposed to do now? Her advice? Keep going. Chin up everybody! We've got work to do.