Government Girl: Young and Female in the White House
By Stacy Parker Aab
I can usually easily say whether I loved a book, hated it, or if it was just alright. Not the case with Government Girl. I had conflicting feelings about this book. Let me explain.
Government Girl is the story of Stacy Parker Aab’s time working for the Clinton White House, from the time she began interning as a student through her brief professional career as an executive assistant. I enjoyed the glimpses into White House life and the major players at the time. The periods covering the Monica Lewinsky scandals and the feelings of White House staffers were particularly interesting to read.
However, this book tends to fall short of expectations. I appreciate seeing the rise of a student throughout the ranks and to a staff level, but too much emphasis was placed on these early years. Throughout these years, too much of the emphasis was on Parker Aab’s personal life (I didn’t expect quite so much talk about her boyfriends, or lack there of) and on her incredible naivete and idealism. For me, the last third of Government Girl was the best portion of the novel, where Parker Aab focuses on her job as a staffer, and not on idealism and her personal life.
Recommendation? I honestly can’t say whether I would recommend this book to others. It was an interesting read, but perhaps would be better suited and more enjoyable for a junior high schooler with less expectations.
“There are three groups of people you don’t mess with in this world – the FBI, the Mafia, and NBA refs.” Mike Schuler, NBA head coach, p. 223
My husband asked Santa for Covert this past Christmas, and I immediately knew I wanted to steal it from him. It is the story of Bob Delaney, aka Bobby Covert, a New Jersey state trooper who is asked to go undercover just shortly after he joins the state troopers. In this new assignment, Delaney teams with other state troopers and the FBI (cooperation that was almost unheard of at the time) in Project Alpha, an effort better understand the inner workings of the mob and to make a serious dent in NJ’s organized crime. Over three years, Delaney starts and becomes president of a Jersey-based trucking company while wearing a wire and gathering evidence against the mobsters that plague the Jersey Shore.
Covert stands out not because it is a true crime novel, but because you can see, as you’re reading, the battles Delaney/Covert undergoes as he swings between his identity as a trooper and a mobster. He suffers from guilt at prosecuting mobsters who had become friends. He is unable to express his emotions after so long of suppressing them.
It was difficult for Delaney to readjust to ordinary life after his undercover left, but a few choice confidants and his “hoops therapy” (p. 185) allow him to get back to normal life. For several years, Delaney splits his time with the state troopers and reffing all levels of basketball, eventually becoming a full-time NBA ref.
Recommendation: While I was drawn to the book when my husband got it, I was a little doubtful I would enjoy it. It ended up being a great book. Delaney’s undercover assignment and his life after the assignment wasn’t romanticized like so many stories today. Delaney’s story was fascinating and well-told. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in true crime or memoirs.
I got this book while at an airport – I had finished the one I brought with me and was trying to choose something that I knew a relative or friend wouldn’t buy (because those usually get mailed to me!). Since I love cooking, am eagerly anticipating Julie & Julia from Netflix, and know nothing about Julia Child, I chose her book, My Life in France.
I went into this book with no expectations, and to be honest, didn’t want to put it down once I started reading. However, for some reason, I felt oddly unsatisfied when I finished the book… like I didn’t know what she talked about for 300 pages.
The first two-thirds of the book were when Child actually lived in France and was learning to cook. I enjoyed the bits and pieces about her cooking classes, I wish there had been a lot more about her trials and errors in the kitchen and her experimentation while working on her cookbook. I did appreciate the glimpses into the 1950s – life in France at the time and the American diplomatic bureaucracy as the Cold War was just beginning. However, I wish there would have been more about Child’s experiences in the kitchen.
The end of the book really focused on the publication of Child’s cookbooks and her work doing tv cooking shows – she traveled back and forth between Norway, France and the U.S. Definitely more about cooking here. However, what I appreciated most about this section was the descriptions of working together with her husband, who was retired at the time and was an amateur photographer and artist. The descriptions of the two of them working together on recipes or the cookbook were just wonderful!
Recommendation? I would recommend this book for a glimpse into Julia Child’s life and into the time period, but if you’re expecting full stories about how she learned to cook or her lessons, I would probably skip this book, as I found that lacking.