Campaign Promises

Comedy writer and award-winning novelist Laurel Osterkamp has written a funny and moving novella about life, love, and politics as seen through the unique lens of Lucy Jones, a quintessential girl-next-door who is obsessed with political campaigns. Liberal, idealistic, and struggling to find her way, Lucy has an easier time believing in causes than she does in herself. But in the midst of analyzing the mistakes made by past political candidates, Lucy attempts to figure out her own choices when it comes to both her private and public life. There’s her high school sweetheart Jack, Monty, Jack’s magnetic older brother, and her politician boyfriend, Drew. Can any of these men offer Lucy a campaign promise to believe in? (

We all have experienced defining moments in life. These are the moments that we attribute to changing direction, gaining a deeper understanding, but mostly profoundly shaping who we are as individuals. Laurel Osterkamp’s novella, Campaign Promises, is just this: five deeply compelling vignettes following Lucy Jones through her most significant moments over twenty years of her life.

Beginning in high school, Lucy finds it easiest to understand her current experiences through political campaign analogies and continues to make sense of events this way as the years role on. After reading (and loving) Osterkamp’s Starring in the Movie of My Life earlier this year I knew that she writes characters who struggle with the complexity of maturing and coming into ones own. Because of this, Lucy is easily relatable as she experiences the milestones of high school, weddings, funerals, baby showers, and swings full circle back to high school reunions. This trajectory illustrates Lucy’s growth as she is finally able to compare her adult self to her naive, idealistic youth.

I enjoyed the glimpse into Lucy’s life and her ability to explain where she was at emotionally and personally through a political lens. I was also impressed with Osterkamp’s subtle slight of hand in one chapter, which made me scrabble back a few pages to realize a character in question was not who I thought they were. Although some readers might feel tricked, I enjoyed the unexpected surprise. Readers should note that Campaign Promises is liberal leaning and specifically critical of Michele Bachmann…so, fair warning if you are a Bachmann fan.

Campaign Promises is a intelligent peek into one woman’s journey into adulthood as her naivety and idealism are nurtured into mature self-awareness. At 75 eBook pages, Campaign Promises is the perfect companion for short trips, lunch hours, or an early afternoon with a cup of tea that leaves you feeling accomplished and satisfied.

Rating: 5/5

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