REVIEWER CAVEAT: I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. It is a political book with many allusions (or illusions) reference the current turmoil in the on-going race for US president. An unbiased review is a challenge.
POLITICAL CAVEAT: For this election, I have to describe myself as apolitical. I would never vote for such an uninformed, prejudiced, knee-jerk reactionary as Trump. I believe my vote counts. The only time I voted; I cast a ballot for Richard Nixon. I felt so responsible for that disaster I never voted again. And I won’t vote this time. A woman for President? Fine, but not this one; at least not with my witting participation.
Rebecca Tree by Michael Abramson should be a very interesting read in the current tumultuous political climate of the US where two undesirable candidates are vying for President. It is hard to maintain objectivity in the face of emotionally driven accusations of corruption, possible rigged elections, backroom deals, and disclosure of past misdeeds of principals. (All of these are in this book). For political junkies, this should be an enjoyable book. I am a political junkie but I detest political correctness advocates with their syrupy pretentiousness of claiming superior moral behavior by having transcended materialistic concerns to arrive at enlightened humanist altruism. This book has a lot of the latter and it is annoying.
Rebecca is a successful, self-made, wealthy-in-her-own-right environmental activist who is the CEO of a group specializing in sustainable energy projects. True, there is a minority interest in the company held by the Tree family, but she is not controlled by them. She is mostly in a constant state of rebellion against them. She hated her brother Sam, the President of the US. It was an understandable hatred stemming from his attempt to rape her when she was 8 years old.
Rebecca doesn’t like her grandfather Merewether. She feels that the only thing that matters to him is wealth and that he will do anything to get it. Merewether manipulates everyone, pursuing a secret agenda related to money and power which allowed him to retire wealthy from the US Senate. He believes resources are to be used which brings him into conflict with Rebecca. She also doesn’t care for Merewether’s younger half-brother William, accurately sizing him up as a political stooge and surrogate for Merewether.
President Sam dies in the first chapter of this book. Merewether would like Rebecca to run for her brother’s office. What does Merewether get out of it? That is one of the mysteries of the novel. Rebecca can’t figure out his motive, but she is sure it is nefarious. She really only wants one thing from grandpa. Rebecca wants to hear the truthful history of her family. Her mother and father died in a plane crash when she was quite young. She had a twin sister but was told the twin had died. For some reason, she has never accepted this. And she can’t get Merewether to talk about it. This is the next big mystery to be solved; where is sister Allison?
Rebecca becomes President of the US. She is not the first woman to do so. The first female president was Hispanic; she served just prior to brother Sam. This time, she will endorse Rebecca in her candidacy and Rebecca will win. The stability of the US government is in its entrenched bureaucracy, a slow-moving mechanism as Rebecca soon finds out. Her interests seem to be confined to environmental concerns. She wants to plant vegetables in the White House Lawn. Other parts of the lawn are taken over by bird feeders. She has enough time in her presidential day to watch, categorize, and muse over the habits of birds from her White House Office windows. She makes time to discuss energy saving measures with the White House staff. She abandons armored cars for lightly armored golf carts when traveling in the DC area.
Occasionally she is distracted by homegrown terrorists, especially the ones who are trying to kill her. No stranger to violence, she is an Army veteran with a specialty in deep cover special operations and reconnaissance. This is handy when she has to advise generals and the Secret Service in their jobs. The Secret Service is there to protect her, but it is also nice that she practices her martial arts skills regularly so she can defeat terrorists when the Secret Service isn’t around.
The environmental friendliness, no carbon footprint constant reiteration is very annoying. It reached its most absurd point with index cards. Rebecca likes to make notes on index cards. They are then placed next to a computer which scans them and establishes a digital library. Then the cards are erased and ready for reuse. Really.
This is a nice, enjoyable, comfortable read but be careful not to read it while watching CNN. It is too easy to confuse the book content with reality.