Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #3 in the Finding Delight Book Club. If you haven’t heard, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. This month, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris.
“Democracy just cannot flourish amid fear. Liberty cannot bloom amid hate. Justice cannot take root amid rage. America must get to work. . . . We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred, and the mistrust.”
Senator Kamala Harris’s book walks readers through the events of her childhood and early career which have shaped her views and informed her political prowess. First, she is the daughter of immigrants. Her father, an economist, is from Jamaica and her mother, a scientist, hailed from India. They met at UC-Berkeley where they would often attend civil rights events. Later, they would bring young Kamala in a stroller to marches.
This early involvement in activism continued throughout Harris’s young life, leading to law school, and a passion for justice that would establish her as an innovative change agent in law enforcement — first, as a prosecutor, and then through her role as deputy district attorney. From there, she quickly advanced to the elected position of District Attorney for San Francisco, followed by chief law enforcement officer for the entire state of California.
The book highlights key ways Harris provided a voice for the voiceless in these important roles — including a battle with the banks during the height of the foreclosure crisis. It also showcases how important people in her life have impacted her political approach. Most notably, the daughter of a cancer researcher, it is clear how her mother’s science background informs Harris’s emphasis on data-informed decision making.
Now a United States Senator, Harris walks readers through a variety of issues that are affecting her state, as well as our whole country, including; health care, national security, mass incarceration, immigration, the opioid crisis, and inequality. The story of her life and career create the framework for discussing the issues but Harris doesn’t stop there. She offers insight on the work that is still to be done and provides a vision for how we can face these things together — by seeing ourselves in each other. In doing so, we can kickstart a shared effort to create positive change in America.
“In the years to come, what matters most is that we see ourselves in one another’s struggles.”
When I added The Truths We Hold to my 2019 book club list it was because I was interested in what Kamala Harris was doing as a junior United States Senator. I had recently heard her give a few interviews where she discussed her background and I was interested to learn more. Now, Harris has thrown her hat in the ring for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and this book has taken on a completely different meaning. Whereas before the choice felt driven by “What has she done?” now I find myself wondering, “What could she do?”
While the publication date of her autobiography does feel very convenient, I won’t fault her for that. (Obama pulled the same move, you’ll recall… and many of the 2020 hopefuls have followed suit.) The book does a great job in laying out her political platform. It’s a super engaging read and felt authentic in a way that many political memoirs don’t. If you’ve ever watched Harris speak or heard her interviewed, you’ll note that her books “sounds” like her.
Learning more about Harris’s early life was a lot of fun. Her background feels really unique (maybe because she’s not another joe-blow, white dude politician??) but at the same time super relatable. (Similarities with mine include: daughter of an economist, lived outside the U.S. for a bit as a kid, and college debater!) The biographical information weaved through most politician’s books are why I like them so much. It really gives you a window into what issues matter most to them and which they’ll be willing to fight hardest for. I recognize parts of these narratives are blown up a bit for the sake of the optics — but I feel like I have a pretty good bullshit meter and can suss out which ones are genuine and which are a stretch. None of the personal links within the pages of The Truths We Hold felt disingenuous.
It was also interesting to note how quickly Harris’s career progressed from assistant prosecutor to U.S. Senator. I found myself deeply respecting her hustle and the hard work she’s invested in her career but also on behalf of her constituents, for whom it feels like she has a genuine care for.
Altogether, I believe The Truths We Hold will serve as an effective foundation for this 2020 hopeful and magnetic candidate. However, no matter who you’re backing for this upcoming race, Harris’s book paints an inspiring portrait of what leadership looks like in challenging times. So, if you’re wondering if you should add this memoir to your reading list, I VOTE YES!
Read this if you’re interested in: Politics, U.S. government, recent California history, successful women, leadership, current events
Read this if you loved: United by Cory Booker, This Fight Is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren, and Off the Sidelines by Kirsten Gillibrand. (You could just do a who’s-who of democratic hopefuls by way of Amazon shoppin’.)
Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.