by Kristin Gore
Aware that Al Gore's daughter Kristin once wrote for Futurama and Saturday Night Live, I went into her book Sammy's Hill expecting a clever and even subversive story deriding the kids who work on Capitol Hill (you know the onesÉ the obnoxious valedictorians, and the Tracy Flicks of the world). Instead, it's fluff. Yet it's fluff that her parents (presumably Tipper, since the book is practically obscenity-free) can be proud of.
Sammy's Hill chronicles the business and pleasure of Samantha Joyce, a 20-something Congressman's aide. Dividing her time between advising her boss and obsessing over men, Samantha often finds herself in embarrassing situations. For example: A bawdy email intended only for her boyfriend ends up being sent to everyone in his address book; and an 83-year-old constituent that she has flown in to testify before Congress arrives stoned. The book starts to resemble a "zany" Kate Hudson movie, and may in fact become one soon enough, as its dust jacket boasts of the recent film rights sale.
Gore offers some scanty information on healthcare issues and touches lightly on filibusters and roll-call votes. She spends too much of the novel agonizing over her boyfriend (who works for a rival congressman, of course); as a result, we never really get to know any of the characters--including Sammy herself. And like many neophyte novels racing towards a climactic event (in this case, Election Day), this one glosses over the last few months in 75 pages, though it did educate me on what a "Blackberry" is (a wireless mini-computer that frequently can double as a cell phone, manages multiple email accounts, doesn't need a user to dial up with a modem, and has a calendar, a date book, and many other organizational amenities for the budding political professional. Blackberry. Your rise to the top won't be the same without it.).
Essentially beach reading, this is a novel that my mother's peers, but not my friends, would find amusing. After her boss compliments Sammy on her expertise, she muses, "Éthat was the first time I'd ever been called a guru, in jest or not. What did being a guru entail? Should I be wearing robes of some sort?" It's amusing in a writing-workshop kind of way, and a Kate Hudson kind of way, but certainly not in a Futurama kind of way (and definitely not in a Will Gardner kind of way).