In this book, Elsie and her friends have been called by their secret society of women. They have spent their entire lives being taught how to get the society’s agenda accomplished by standing behind important (male) figures who could change the world. Now, they must compete with each other to win the heart and the ring of the man whom their society has decided will be the future president of the United States. They work hard to ensure fairness, inclusivity, and friendship during their competition even though their entire future depends on them beating the others to the top.
I thought it was a really interesting concept, and quite unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Boekweg really explored the idea that behind every man who changed the world, there was a woman who was really responsible. As a feminist, I loved that idea and I thoroughly enjoyed how inclusive and accepting the girls’ friendship was, even though they were essentially competing for a future. I thought the personalities of the main character, Elsie, and the love interest, Andrew, were extremely well-developed and they felt so real and relatable to me. Elsie was multidimensional and I could really understand her struggle to find the balance of friendship and future, and I could feel her desperate search for the answer between pride and doing what is right. I found myself contemplating the answers along with her. However, I thought that all of the other characters were very much stock characters and lacked the emotional depth that they needed to truly play their role in the story.
The author did a great job presenting the idea that if you want to make a difference, you can still be strong and fight for your beliefs if you do it discreetly. It gets just as much done if you were to start a riot and scream about what you want. I will always remember Elsie’s silent and relatable strength, resilience, persistence, and fighting spirit as she worked her way to her true self throughout the course of this novel.
Reviewed by Caitlin at Glen Allen Library