"Capitol Hell" by Jayne J. Jones and Alicia M. Long, is an entertaining story of a young campaign worker who moved to Washington DC for her first real job. Against her parents better judgment, Allison Amundson, of South Dakota, is hired as a scheduler in the office of US Senator Anders McDermott III. She arrives in Washington to a disappointingly inadequate apartment, which foreshadows her social life in Washington. The story is told from Allison's point of view regarding both the politics of the US Senate and the politics of the office. Along with her good friend Janet Johannson, Allison keeps the office running with a few slip-ups along the way. Thanks to her acquired "ATD" (attention to detail), she becomes a integral part of the senators life, scheduling practically every minute of his existence, and being at the senators beck-and-call. The two seem to be the most competent workers on board, yet are the lowest paid and most unappreciated. Their ambiguous job titles don't begin to cover the tasks they are asked to accomplish, including everything from scheduling meetings to buying the Senator's wife lingerie. They work tirelessly for the Senator and his dysfunctional family.
Entwined through their daily work in the office is their budding attempts at romance. Allison constant efforts to attract a seemingly uninterested coworker, and Janet's cyber romance with another senator, gives the story a "Sex and the City" feel to it. The book offers a funny look into what might go on in a political office, as she describes each personality of the office staff and how they interact, giving new meaning to the phrase "being hired for who you know and not what you know."
The story is narrated through the eyes of the young Allison with enough details to ring true. The setting seems authentic as the reader can imagine the inner workings of a senate office. The reader is taken through not only the daily routine of a senate office with donors and constitute issues to contend with, but the new Senator decides to make a presidential bid as well. The campaign is thrust upon the office staff to conduct with little guidance but extreme pressure and high expectations.
This new life for Allison is detailed throughout the book. Her lack of funds to be able to afford to live in Washington DC, checking her bank balance and finding it at -$126.89, for example, is very relatable for any person reflecting on their beginning struggles in the real world. It also shows the pressure young people face in making a successful career for themselves. Though she is overworked, underpaid, used and abused, she constantly reminds herself how hard work pays off and how anyone would kill for the opportunity she has. Many can relate to the constant buzzing of their work phones, which is a poignant reminder of work and life in the digital age. Allison's BlackBerry seems an extension of her fingertips, responding to emails all through the night, Allison is almost always "on." The authors describe the development of the characters as they progress through naive enthusiasm to competent employees who the senator and his family come to rely on for all things. As Allison develops throughout the story you can't help but enjoy her growth, maturity, and positive attitude. She never stops really enjoying the hectic pace of her new life.
This book is a great weekend read at 330 pages. It is story full of life and humor!