And So It Begins 2020: The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

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From one of America’s most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country.

Senator Kamala Harris’s commitment to speaking truth is informed by her upbringing. The daughter of immigrants, she was raised in an Oakland, California community that cared deeply about social justice; her parents–an esteemed economist from Jamaica and an admired cancer researcher from India–met as activists in the civil rights movement when they were graduate students at Berkeley. Growing up, Harris herself never hid her passion for justice, and when she became a prosecutor out of law school, a deputy district attorney, she quickly established herself as one of the most innovative change agents in American law enforcement. She progressed rapidly to become the elected District Attorney for San Francisco, and then the chief law enforcement officer of the state of California as a whole. Known for bringing a voice to the voiceless, she took on the big banks during the foreclosure crisis, winning a historic settlement for California’s working families. Her hallmarks were applying a holistic, data-driven approach to many of California’s thorniest issues, always eschewing stale “tough on crime” rhetoric as presenting a series of false choices. Neither “tough” nor “soft” but smart on crime became her mantra. Being smart means learning the truths that can make us better as a community, and supporting those truths with all our might. That has been the pole star that guided Harris to a transformational career as the top law enforcement official in California, and it is guiding her now as a transformational United States Senator, grappling with an array of complex issues that affect her state, our country, and the world, from health care and the new economy to immigration, national security, the opioid crisis, and accelerating inequality.

By reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, Kamala Harris offers in The Truths We Hold a master class in problem-solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values. In a book rich in many home truths, not least is that a relatively small number of people work very hard to convince a great many of us that we have less in common than we actually do, but it falls to us to look past them and get on with the good work of living our common truth. When we do, our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come.

Source: GoodReads

Right now, Kamala Harris is probably at the top of my 2020 picks for president.  That could all change of course, but out of the candidates that are likely to run she is leading the pack for me at least.  Her book sort of shows why.

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To be fair, I’m going to be trying to read something or analyzing something 2020 oriented every month or now before the election.  I feel its important.  There were a lot of misconceptions made by irresponsible media outlets about a certain overly competent candidate in 2016 and her stupid emails and look what we got stuck with…Putin’s puppet (God, how I wanted HRC so fucking bad to be POTUS).

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So I’m sure while idiots like Mika and Joe (yes, I had to call those two ignoramuses out for still bashing that very competent candidate this very morning-seriously, those two always get me raging within ten minutes of being awake) I thought for like the two or so people reading this  review I’d at least try to inform you of the literature that’s out there involving the candidates.

Note, there will be personal biases in these reviews.   Such as the fact that I find Donald Trump to be a total racist asshole (though, is that an opinion that’s sort of fact see asshole’s reaction to Charlottesville).  Anything Pro-Trump is not going to be tolerated.  Also, Bernie Sanders is NOT a democrat unless it suits his purposes-i.e. getting funds for another failed campaign.  Don’t believe me, see that little “I” next to his name that says it all… Also he’s full of  bull shit which oddly enough fits considering his initials.

Yes, I’m juvenile.

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And if you’re going to whine…we’ll this is my space find some other review to express your disgusting MAGA love and Bernie Bro-ness (seriously, those supporters are the ultimate internet troll).

Anyway, back to Kamala.  Even though she’s only been a senator for a couple of years, in some ways she’s one of the more qualified candidates that the democratic party has.  She has experience in local, state, and federal government.  And I think it’s really important for anyone who is trying to be president to know how these three different factions of government work.

She is also very personable.  The structure of this book tries to integrate Harris’s personal life with her policies and for the most part it works.  The anecdotes will make the Mika and Joe’s of the world happy , while the more policy wonks (i.e. people who actually make a SMART choice when they vote) will be happy to know that Harris knows her stuff and you can see that she is very passionate about certain issues.  I will say though, at the beginning of the book when Harris is going over her childhood there were parts of these personal anecdotes that felt a bit wooden.

Again, this was only for the first few chapters though.  The only other problem I had with this book was it was clearly an I’m running for president book.  And okay, yeah she is.  And yeah, candidates do in fact often write books before campaigns, but it does sort of effect the overall quality to the book.

It still though did what it set out to do, it really did a nice job introducing Harris.  You can see how her career choice as a prosecutor influenced her policies regarding criminal justice reform.   I especially like the fact that some of her solutions aren’t something that you would find in a typical politician stump speech.  Like, bail reform.  It’s an important thing, but unless you’re familiar with the bail system (which most Americans aren’t) you’re not going to really know how much an effect that these reforms would make.  Harris is pretty clear in laying out her case for it.

In addition, to her career influencing her choices in policy.  You can see how important Kamala’s mother was to her and what an impact she had on her life.  There really was a strong mother–daughter relationship there that I think has impacted her life and it really shows.

At the end of the day, a book is a book.  I thought the memoir once it got past the Harris’s childhood years was quite compelling.  I managed to get through it in about two hours after being exhausted after a long day at work.  Between the book and the town hall that Harris did at CNN last night, she is definitely a top contender for me.

I’m sure as the race continues to evolve I’ll have more books and or town halls to read and review. However, if you are interested in voting for Kamala I do suggest checking out her book.  If anything, it will give you a good indicator of what her values and policies are.

Overall Rating: An A- rocky beginning but I think overall the book did what it was intended to do.

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Informative But Annoying: The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaught

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Seventeen-year-old Lacey Burke is the last person on the planet who should be doling out sex advice. For starters, she’s never even kissed anyone, and she hates breaking the rules. Up until now, she’s been a straight-A music geek that no one even notices. All she cares about is jamming out with her best friends, Theo and Evita.

But then everything changes.

When Lacey sees first-hand how much damage the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum of her school can do, she decides to take a stand and starts doling out wisdom and contraception to anyone who seeks her out in the girls’ restroom. But things with Theo become complicated quickly, and Lacey is soon not just keeping everyone else’s secrets, but hers as well.

Source: GoodReads

I just realize this is the first book I’m reviewing for 2019.  That’s not a good omen considering that I hated this book.

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To be fair, as a safe sex manual and an introduction to intersectionality it didn’t outright suck, but as an actual book.

Oh yeah, it did.

This book is very informative.  I mean, it does go into some of the specifics about how to have safe sex, etc. But as an actual book….

I guess, the closest thing I have to compare it to is Meg Cabot’s 2004 Ready or Not (the poor sequel to All American Girl).  In that sequel, Meg Cabot not so subtly gave her audience a lecture on safe sex.

Hell, I was sixteen at the time I first read it and a total Cabot fan girl and even I found the book eye roll inducing.  Hinebaugh’s book is ten times worse than Ready or Not.

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That’s bad folks really bad.

The message is a good one, but it is just so ham fisted I really can’t see the target audiences liking this book.  It didn’t help that none of the characters or side plots.

The main character’s essential characteristic is that she knows all about safe sex.  There’s nothing else going for her except she’s a little whiney and privilege asshole who apparently hates classical music even though she’s trying to get in music school.

Honey, just letting you know that Mozart and Haydn you’re going to be hearing about them a lot even if you do go to school for just composition.  I’m pretty sure Musical History and Music Theory touches on them a lot but hey what do I know just that everybody in my freaking family has a music (either education or performance) degree and my sister went to a fucking conservatory (one of those school’s you mock).

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Oh yeah, there’s some character hatred on the MC.  But Lacey is a little insufferable twit who knows all about safe sex because her mom’s a nurse I guess…and  has terrible taste in boys.  Because God, the love interest was attached for most of this book and then quickly got with Lacey and then got into her pants even quicker.

And yeah, I guess they were friends BUT….the relationship doesn’t really make sense to me.  Maybe it’s me but have your characters actually date before they talk about what sort of flavor of condom they want to use.

There’s their bff who is suppose to be the asexual rep of the novel.  I mean…textbook wise the rep was decent enough.  It gives a good introduction into what asexuality is, BUT I really felt like it was simply rushed to give the book diversity points.  God, I hate saying that.  But that’s what it honestly felt like.  I also don’t know how good the rep was and I really don’t feel comfortable with reviewing it one way or the other.  I know will be interested in what asexual readers have to say about this aspect of the book.

The other friend is pregnant which I guess her pregnancy is suppose to be one of the turning points of the novel.  Again, she felt mostly like an insert.

God, most of the characters in this book were pretty much inserts to get out the message of this book.  Which leads me to this, I fucking hate message books.  Much like I hated after school specials when I was young and it’s because of one simple reason-they talk down to their audience.

Don’t get me wrong, the book had a very good message but there’s a way to be less ham fisted about it.  Also, I don’t think a teenager is going to become the random school sex guru like Lacey it just felt bizarre and off putting.

I am donating this book to my local library.  I have mixed feelings about it.  On one hand, I am glad that this book is getting out there to a very conservative audience.  On the other hand, I feel bad for the person reading this bland book.  Other than the decent message, there’s nothing appealing about this one.  I could rant about it more, but I really don’t feel like it.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a D.  The message is good, the rest of it sucked.