The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

Contextual set-up: aside from Shakespeare Project the Second, my 2020 reading has been deeply preoccupied with sociopolitical analysis—both anti-racist texts, and exposes of the Cheeto POTUS’s administration. This book doesn’t fit clearly in either of those sub-categories, but it’s definitely part of the same reading family that has been so front-and-center for me since I emerged from my first bout of “pandemic brain” and started actively reading again.

An screencap from MezzoSherri's Libby shelf, showing the thumbnail for Kamala Harris's book The Truths We Hold.
Thank you, Libby!

It wasn’t till I started writing this post that I realized The Truths We Hold is a campaign book.* But of course it is. Released about a week or two before Harris launched her Presidential campaign in January 2019, and with the flag-waving subtitle An American Journey, it has all the hallmarks of the genre.

And no shame on that. This sort of book has a long and respectable lineage, from JFK’s Profiles in Courage to Obama’s Audacity of Hope to Warren’s This Fight is Our Fight.** Good on Harris for writing her own, and I hope she continues to earn healthy royalty checks throughout the remainder of her long career in public service.

Still, I think I’m glad I read the memoir when I did rather than during the heat of the primaries.

I’ve been slowly working through this book for the last few weeks. Started it a few days before the election, took a bit of a pause during the week of ballot-counting, and then came back to it with a lighter heart after the results had been announced. (The eagle-eyed—or elephant-brained—reader might recall that I only had 7 days left on my library check out some two-and-a-half weeks ago: that’s the glory of multiple library cards!)

And even if this memoir wasn’t deeply self-revelatory, even if it skated past some of the hard times Harris has faced, even if there were stretches of the book that felt more like a policy platform than a memoir, I am still here for all of it. Because I have such hope in seeing these convictions, these policy positions articulated and knowing that the writer will be my Vice President not too long from now.

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Both the reviews I linked in the footnote below are somewhat backhanded in their praise of this book. In NPR’s review, Danielle Kurtzleben observes: “It’s not quite that the bar is lowered with the campaign book. It’s perhaps more accurate to say that the bar is replaced with a series of hoops. In her opening argument for 2020, Harris jumps through them.” Meanwhile, writing for The Guardian, David Smith says “[Harris] has written an ordinary book because, if truth be told, it was never about the book.”

But you know what? After this election season, I am 100% with Van Jones:

Boring is the new thrilling.
Predictable is the new exciting.
Normal is the new extraordinary.

Yup: I am here for this.

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* Both book reviews—NPR and The Guardian—I skimmed prior to writing my own are centered on the book’s place as an exemplar of this genre.

** Sob.

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One thought on “The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

  1. Pingback: Beauty Mark by Carole Boston Weatherford – Self-Love: It's Just Another Lifestyle Change

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