I literally judged a book by its cover when I bought The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close. The cover is one of the most appealing parts about it. I mean, look at it. It’s precious. While I don’t regret reading it, I really do think the story could have been so much better. It’s about a girl named Beth and her husband, Matt Kelly. They met and were married in New York City but moved to Washington DC after Matt falls in love with politics after working for the 2008 Obama campaign. In DC the couple meets Ash and Jimmy Dillon who are from Texas. The four become inseparable friends. Jimmy decides to run for Texas Railroad Commissioner and they all eventually move to Sugar Land, Texas to run the campaign. Their friendships and marriages start to deteriorate over the course of the race. It was sad to read through.
My problem with the book is that it was more realistic than what I was expecting a fiction novel to be. I felt like it could have been an autobiography at some points. Opportunities for excitement would present themselves over and over again and, over and over again, the characters would disappoint. Drama isn’t something I want in real life but it’s a different story when it comes to some of the books I’m reading.
One thing I did enjoy is the way Beth described what it was like to lose a friend. She discussed the way breaking up with a guy is so quick and final compared to the way you do it with a friend. When two people are dating and it’s not working out, you blame it on timing, interests, personality and then it’s over. When friends break up, neither can admit it and it happens over time. Both are technically break ups and both are painful but hardly anyone thinks of them both in that way. On a lighter note, I also liked that part of the book was set in Houston. Sugar Land is not far at all from where Josh and I live. There was even a part about Torchy’s Tacos. Josh and I basically live there too.
Even though I was not as entertained by the story as I had hoped, I did appreciate the political lessons of the book. I was a government major in school (basically political science). I took lots of classes on campaigns and the way they run. We would study a particular governor’s campaign route or how a presidential candidate would utilize social media to target a group of the electorate. I knew the logistics of what it took to run a campaign but, before reading The Hopefuls, I didn’t have a whole lot of insight as to what it did to the people running and their families. Campaigns are physically and emotionally exhausting to everyone, not only those on staff. Beth, Matt and the Dillons are prime examples. I couldn’t help but think how beneficial this book would have been to me while I was still in school.