Wednesday, September 14, 2011

#BookReview: The GQ Candidate - Keli Goff

A more accurate title for Keli Goff's The GQ Candidate might be Primary Colors Part 2 or The Candidate's Friends. Some of you will remember the original Primary Colors, the 1996 novel that was loosely based on Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. In The GQ Candidate, Keli Goff has created her own version, this time focusing on the candidacy of Luke Cooper, her stand in for Barack Obama.

We all know how the candidacy of President Obama turned out, so there's really no use in rehashing that story. But what Goff gives readers is a glimpse not so much into the life of a candidate for the office of president, but that of his family and friends. Without knowing who those characters were modeled after, it becomes a much more interesting story.

As far as the similarities to the Obamas, they were pretty obvious, though small changes were made. Luke, governor of Michigan (instead of a senator), is married to Laura Cooper, an accomplished educator (instead of an attorney). Instead of two girls, they're the parents of two boys. Luke is not biracial, as is the President, but he was adopted by a Jewish family as an infant.

What's new and different is seeing how Luke's candidacy affects his closest friends and how situations in their lives directly impact his campaign. If you're running for a public office, you're bound to have friends that could be liabilities. Do you cut them loose? Do you disavow your religion if it makes voters uncomfortable? If your friends are just as competitive as you, will they be able to stand beside and behind you while you grab the spotlight that they've always craved? Goff hits all of these points and more.

What did you like about this book?
Luke's circle of friends was very well developed. It was interesting to note the roles that all of them played in their relationships, both with each other and their spouses.

What didn't you like about this book?
While Luke's friends were well developed, he wasn't. It's almost as if he were a secondary character brought in only for the purposes of reacting to situations.

I also hate the title of the book. The explanation for why Luke was nicknamed "the GQ candidate" was shallow and certainly didn't live up to the reason given for it.

What could the author do to improve this book?
Either rename it so that it accurately reflects about whom the book is written or flesh out the story of Luke Cooper more so that the title fits.

Published July 2011

Theme: Eric B. is President by Eric B. & Rakim

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