Stacy Parker is just 18 years old and attending George Washington University when she starts as an intern in the office of George Stephanopolous. A native of Detroit, Stacy has always excelled at school, and she quickly falls into a routine riddled with varying levels of constant stress while she tries to do the best job ever and find her place in life and on the scene in Washington, DC. Over the years Stacy finishes her schooling and goes on to a staff position as the special assistant to Paul Begala all while becoming acquainted with President Clinton, Vernon Jordan, Rahm Emmanuel (on whom she has a crush), and a bevy of other players on the Washington, DC scene. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal breaks, it changes everything that Stacy knows about her president, working in the White House and the dangers of any missteps, real or perceived, when dealing with powerful men.
This book really resonated with me because while Parker Aab does talk extensively about her life and experiences working in the White House and her interactions with powerful men- relevant because all women deal with this on varying scales and degrees- she also delves into and examines her personal life and what it was like for her to adjust to being a woman and what that meant in terms of being vulnerable, but also the power of it which she didn’t fully understand. She explores her expectations of men and relationships and the naive ideas that she had about both and what they may have stemmed from in her childhood. She speaks candidly about what it meant to be an African American woman dating and building a life in predominantly white world. Parker Aab presents her views clearly, and makes no attempts to hide the ways that she trusted in her government and the men around her, even when it makes her seem painfully naive.
Government Girl is told in a loosely chronological fashion with the author dipping back and forward in to time to provide further illumination and parallels to pertinent issues being discussed in the section. While I think the intention was to explain further the result was a bit distracting to keeping place within the story and keeping track of what was going on with different people and their presence in her life. Still, Parker Aab has recounted her experiences to create a riveting story which gives readers a backstage glance down the corridors of power from the point of view of one of its most vulnerable participants.
It never occurred to me when I was in high school or college that I could ever work in the White House. I think this is probably more because I didn’t plan to go in any direction that a DC internship would have led, but it was interesting to hear about people involved in this world at such a young age. Parker Aab was also heavily involved on the President’s advance staff and would travel to other countries ahead of time to prepare for a presidential stay- complete with close working relationships with the Secret Service, and all before she was 23. It’s easy to see why it took me only a few short sittings to get through this book because once I started reading her story, I just didn’t want to put it down. Highly Recommended.