Review: From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

This is not your grandma’s White House biography.

Non fiction is not a genre that I read a whole lot of. Non fiction—especially biographies etc—aren’t not my thing, but ever once in a while a non fiction book comes up that captures my eye and this was one of those books.

The summary promised the most random story—a woman lands a job at the White House via Craig’s List.

Yes you read that right. Craig’s List. The White House. Stenographer for the President. Yes—THE POTUS. What the actual *&%????? Sold. I was absolutely onboard with this book!

In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate DC outsider, she joined the elite team who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand.

On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers–young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with a consummate DC insider, and suddenly, the political became all too personal.

Set against the backdrop of a White House full of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and discovering her voice in the process (summary from Goodreads).

This book is Bridget Jones meets the Oval Office. From the very beginning, I could not put this book down. When I first started this book, I had a lot of questions. Why in the name of God would the White House post such a unique position on Craig’s List? And second, do they actually still need stenographers?

Dory-Stein answers all these questions and more in her memoir. If you are looking for an Obama tell all or something more sophisticated—keep looking. This book is not your grandmothers biography—this is non fiction meets chick lit rather than a polished biography about our former president. It is unique and totally binge worthy. I read it in almost one sitting.

While I loved this book and easily counted it as one of the best reads all year—there were times when I absolutely loathed the authors decisions.

We’ve all made mistakes in our twenties and I thinker’s safe to say that we’ve all been ‘hung up’ on a significant other at one point or another but Dory-Stein takes it to a whole new level. I couldn’t believe how much of a train wreck her personal life was but yet at the same time, I couldn’t say that I haven’t been in her place before—hooked on a guy who will never treat you the way that you wish they could. She falls in love with peoples potential and I am 100% guilty of this in former relationships—so maybe that was why this book was hard to read at times.

I can’t imagine the courage it took to write this book. She was so honest and real—even when the truth was ugly, she never shied away from her past and choices. I commend her for her honesty. This was not only a cautionary tale, but it gave readers a good hard look at the things that go through women’s minds and the ways that women try and justify their emotions or choices. I loved the grit and honesty in this book.

While working at the Oval Office sounds terribly glamorous, in this book readers get a completely different view. Working for POTUS sounds like the ultimate dream job right? As a stenographer, Dory-Stein had unobstructed access to some of our nation’s biggest moment, decisions, and conversations. I can’t imagine that kind of power and access to history. But like everything, it comes with a price. Working for the White House now seems far less appealing after I read this book. What a lonely lifestyle—and in many ways—toxic. I can’t imagine following POTUS on the campaign trail or visiting multiple countries in a matter of days.

On one hand—-HELLO DREAM JOB—but on the other hand—your life isn’t your own and it’s a lot less glamorous than it sounds. The way that Dory-Stein writes really highlights the darker side of the ‘dream job’. Even if she doesn’t necessarily say it—being on the road is lonely and her personal life suffering the consequences of a dream job. Though stenographer wasn’t her ‘dream job’—it was more A JOB, than dream job—she really shows the reader how much she sacrificed for this job.

I was totally annoyed with her by the end, mostly because of her relationship choices, but I was happy with the spot that she ended up in. I wish there had been more info about what she’s doing now, maybe a epilogue with more info or just a little blurb at the end about what she’s doing now, but I also read that she was writing another book so maybe in that book there will be more details.

A film company has already bought the rights to this book and I will absolutely go see it when and if the movie gets made. This book made the White House sexy and I absolutely loved it! Thank you Dory-Stein for writing something raw, real, and honest!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dory-Stein 

  • Hardcover, 352 pages
    Expected publication: July 10th 2018 by Spiegel & Grau
    ISBN 0525509127 (ISBN13: 9780525509127)
  • Review copy provided by: Author/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 5 out of 5

Genre: non fiction

Memorable lines/quotes:


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