"The Hopefuls" by Jennifer Close

When Beth Kelly moves from New York City to Washington D.C. after her husband Matt gets a job at the White House, she is less than thrilled. She loved everything about New York City and the people there were her people. In D.C., it seems to Beth that everyone is obsessed with politics and if you’re not one of them you’re on the outside looking in. In a place where people like to compare their security clearance levels, speak in acronyms, and can’t separate themselves from their Blackberries, Beth is all on her own.

But when Beth and Matt meet White House staffer Jimmy and his wife Ashleigh, things begin to brighten for her a little bit. Right from the beginning Ashleigh and Beth get each other, they connect over being outsiders, and before long are doing everything together. Jimmy and Matt get along perfectly and push each other to succeed in the fast-paced world of politics. The foursome quickly become inseparable spending meals, birthdays, and holidays together.

When Jimmy decides to run for local office, a dream Matt has always held for himself, he asks Matt to move across the country and manage his campaign for him. It only makes sense that the four of them take this on together. But one year spent living, travelling, and campaigning together takes its toll on the foursome. Before they know it their friendship is put to the test, threatened by jealousy and competition. And even more damaged is Beth and Matt’s marriage which may not survive the campaign.

The Hopefuls, by Jennifer Close, is a light, fun, and addictive read about politics and relationships. Set in the fast-paced world of Washington, D.C. and surrounded by the optimism and hope of the Obama campaign and administration, this book is a wonderful look at friendship that will have you invested from beginning to end.

July was the perfect time to release this book, this is a quintessential summer read. A book about friendship and marriage set in the always moving world of Washington D.C., this is one that readers will not want to put down. The writing is easy and it flows well through short bursts. I often found myself amazed at how much I had just read in one sitting because it was easy to get caught up in the story.

The strength of this book is its thoughtfulness when it comes to relationships. The book focuses on two aspects - marriages and friendships between couples. When Beth and Matt move to Washington it seems like a great start for the both of them. Beth has lost her job and Matt is eager to work in politics, a lifelong dream. But while Matt quickly and easily slips into life in D.C., things are a little more difficult for Beth. She can’t find a writing job comparable to what she had back in New York and she has nothing in common with the people she comes into contact with through Matt’s work. As she spends more and more time at home and on her own, she becomes increasingly bored and lonely.

It is their close friendship with Jimmy and Ashleigh that pulls Beth out of her funk. Ashleigh understands exactly what Beth is going through and their bond develops over this. Jimmy and Matt’s bond develops over their work and shared passions, and pretty soon the four of them are inseparable. But all friendships are put to the test and what happens when there is more than one relationship at stake? This is the strength of the novel. This isn’t about perfect people or perfect relationships. This is about how we form our relationships. It’s about getting to know the best and worst traits of the people we are connected to, how are relationships exist under pressure, and whether or not those relationships can survive when it all hits the fan. 

Is this book a little light on plot? Sure but that’s not what this book is about. When you think of a book set in Washington, you think of a bit more drama but that is not needed here. This is a book about relationships and it shines bright in this aspect. 

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada. The opinions expressed above are my own.


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