From the Corner of the Oval (★★★★☆)

From the Corner of the Oval

Beck Dorey-Stein  •   Spiegel & Grau   •   July 10, 2018   *   352 Pages

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Beck Dorey-Stein can’t believe her luck when she lands a job as a stenographer for Barack Obama. No, she has zero interest in a career as a typist, but she can’t pass up the opportunity to work for the president of the United States, following him around the globe as he handles crises and meets with leaders of  different countries. She’s on the front lines of history—even if she is only listening.

Nothing prepares her for her new life. Beck must travel constantly, sometimes flying to two or three places in a single day. The president’s schedule is brutal, so Beck’s is, too. And she’s not alone. The president travels with a large group of people—security teams, trip organizers, his own staff and advisors, political visitors, and the list goes on. Over time, Beck gets to know many of these people (and even dates a few…). The book hits the high points of Obama’s time as president (from visiting Cuba to responding to the Sandy Hook shooting), as well as Beck’s experience trying to fit in and cope with this exciting and demanding lifestyle.

 *   *   *   *   *

From the Corner of the Oval is a page-turner. Dorey-Stein’s story is certainly unique, and she has a casual, conversational, and easy-to-follow writing style. This book is basically the memoir equivalent of a rom-com beach read. I enjoyed reading about her experience working with Obama. It felt like taking an inside peek into a foreign world, and it really was fascinating.

The only (major) negative about this book is that Dorey-Stein spends, oh, about 60% of it talking about her romantic relationships—specifically, about her relationship with the charismatic and uber-popular Obama staffer, Jason. Which wouldn’t be so bad…except that Jason and Dorey-Stein are cheating on their significant others to be with each other, which means their relationship is never a legit “relationship.” It’s never secure or stable or emotionally healthy. Unfortunately, this translates to Dorey-Stein spending about 200 pages giving the tedious play-by-play of ALLLLLL her insecurities. I felt sympathetic to her in the beginning, but after watching her go back to this poozer over and over and over again, I (like most of her friends) stopped caring and didn’t want to hear about it anymore.

I still think this book is worth a read. It goes by quickly and the “romantic woes” sections can be skimmed. Ultimately, I enjoyed getting an inside look into the life of the former president. Sigh, we miss you, Obama.


Big thank you to Spiegel & Grau and Net Galley for the Advanced Reader Copy of this book!

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