If your funny older sister were the former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, her behind-the-scenes political memoir would look something like this . . .
Alyssa Mastromonaco worked for Barack Obama for almost a decade, and long before his run for president. From the then-senator's early days in Congress to his years in the Oval Office, she made Hope and Change happen through blood, sweat, tears, and lots of briefing binders.
But for every historic occasion -- meeting the queen at Buckingham Palace, bursting in on secret climate talks, or nailing a campaign speech in a hailstorm -- there were dozens of less-than-perfect moments when it was up to Alyssa to save the day. Like the time she learned the hard way that there aren't nearly enough bathrooms at the Vatican.
Full of hilarious, never-before-told stories, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? is an intimate portrait of a president, a book about how to get stuff done, and the story of how one woman challenged, again and again, what a "White House official" is supposed to look like. Here Alyssa shares the strategies that made her successful in politics and beyond, including the importance of confidence, the value of not being a jerk, and why ultimately everything comes down to hard work (and always carrying a spare tampon).
Told in a smart, original voice and topped off with a couple of really good cat stories, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? is a promising debut from a savvy political star.
In 2004, 20-something Mastromonaco landed an influential job as director of scheduling for then-Senator Barack Obama. It would lead her to the White House, where she continued to work as director of scheduling from 2009 to 2011, and later as deputy chief of staff for operations from 2011 to 2014. In this high-profile position, she took frequent flights on Air Force 1, sat next to Chinese officials at state dinners, and was an instrumental force in the White House response to Hurricane Sandy. Mastromonaco's memoir successfully avers that a tough, high-profile job is attainable and enjoyable for any woman who is as smart, ambitious, humble, silly, and hard-working as she is. When tales of her cat, Shrummie, start to feel like YouTube material, Mastromonaco tacks to the story of doing debate prep with Senator Chuck Schumer, the future minority leader of the Senate, having been hand-selected by his chief of staff. She achieves the right balance of entertainment and substance throughout, recounting appealing anecdotes that make both her and President Obama's experiences and accomplishments seem relatable to the reader. Her book is full of enjoyable storytelling intended as encouragement for women of her generation and younger.