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From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

FROM THE CORNER OF THE OVAL by Beck Dorey-Stein, book reviewed by On My Kindle Book Reviews
The compulsively readable, behind-the-scenes memoir that takes readers inside the Obama White House, through the eyes of a young staffer learning the ropes, falling in love, and finding her place in the world.

In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama's stenographers. The ultimate DC outsider, she joined the elite team who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers--young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with a consummate DC insider, and suddenly, the political became all too personal. Set against the backdrop of a White House full of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and discovering her voice in the process.
Source: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and opted to post a review.
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Politics
Format: eBook, Print
Publication Date: July 10, 2018

Front cover of FROM THE CORNER OF THE OVAL by Beck Dorey-Stein

Review

I really don't know what I was thinking when I saw From the Corner of the Oval on NetGalley and decided to review it. I generally steer clear of political nonfiction; however, something about it caught my eye and before I knew it, I requested it. I'd like to thank Random House Publishing Group for offering this book on NetGalley and for accepting my request to review it.

I'm glad I requested this book and had the opportunity to read it. A part of me was terribly worried that this book would be some staid and boring political memoir or, even worse, a gossipy piece of work which would be better suited for publication by "The National Enquirer." I was pleasantly surprised when From the Corner of the Oval did not fit either one of those categories. Instead, I discovered a brutally honest and completely subjective perspective of a young woman's time as a stenographer during the Obama administration.

If this was a work of fiction, I'd say Stein is an endearing character. She's young, intelligent, enthusiastic, and it's clear that she treasured the time she spent with the 44th President of the United States. However, the memoir isn't all about work; Stein discusses, in great detail, her love life during her time as a stenographer. I admire her courage in admitting the mistakes she made along the way, it goes to show that a young woman can be intelligent and still make the same mistakes that most young women do.

I enjoyed reading about the different locations she visited and her infrequent encounters with former-president Obama. These are described in clear, stunning detail and her boundless enthusiasm for traveling to different countries is contagious. Her insights and inner dialogue are described to readers in a chatty, conversational tone that I found irresistible.

Readers looking for a conventional political memoir should steer clear. You will be disappointed because this isn't another person's insights about the 44th President of the U.S.; however, readers who are looking for an unconventional glimpse of what the world of politics is life from somebody who is low on the totem-pole will love From the Corner of the Oval.

About Beck Dorey-Stein

A graduate of Wesleyan University, BECK DOREY-STEIN worked as a White House stenographer from 2012 to 2017. Previously she worked as a high school English teacher in Hightstown, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Seoul, South Korea. This is her first book.
Memorabilia from Beck Dorey-Stein's time as a White House stenographer. Reprinted with permission.
Memorabilia from Beck Dorey-Stein's time as a White House stenographer.

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FROM THE CORNER OF THE OVAL by Beck Dorey-Stein, front cover image for social media