Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza

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The Stacks received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. For more information See Disclosures.

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win is the book of the moment right now in America. I mean that literally, it is a book about a woman running for Senate in Pennsylvania in the 2018 midterm elections, which as of this writing as a mere 61 days away. If thats not “the moment” I’m not sure I know what is.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of this book from the publisher in preparation of having Jo Piazza as a guest on the podcast. I really loved talking to Jo, and learning about her and her life and her process. Those things are all true separate from this review.

If you’re unfamiliar with this book here is your blurb:

Charlotte Walsh is running for Senate in the most important race in the country during a midterm election that will decide the balance of power in Congress. Still reeling from a presidential election that shocked and divided the country and inspired by the chance to make a difference, she’s left behind her high-powered job in Silicon Valley and returned, with her husband Max and their three young daughters, to her downtrodden Pennsylvania hometown to run in the Rust Belt state.

Once the campaign gets underway, Charlotte is blindsided by just how dirty her opponent is willing to fight, how harshly she is judged by the press and her peers, and how exhausting it becomes to navigate a marriage with an increasingly ambivalent and often resentful husband. When the opposition uncovers a secret that could threaten not just her campaign but everything Charlotte holds dear, she has to decide just how badly she wants to win and at what cost.

When writing this book, Jo Piazza took the time to interview over 100 women politicians and political operatives. This book is fiction, with a lot of a real life antidotes to back it up. And it feels that way, while the characters feel totally fictional, the things they’re going through feel all too real. There is a list in the book of names that Charlotte gets called on social media, and one just has to look into the mentions of a Kamala Harris or Nancy Pelosi to see that those vile insults are nothing out of the ordinary.

This book is totally enjoyable and a super easy and fun read. It takes a super serious topic and finds a way to make it fun and still confront major issues around sexism and gender norms in The United States. The writing is very straightforward and easy. Piazza is specific without languishing in adjectives and descriptive details. The book goes by quick.

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win has an agenda. It is an agenda that I respect and am grateful exists. Piazza is trying to illustrate the disparities that women in politics (and the public eye) face compared to men. Piazza is asking us to really look at how we treat women, and why. She is also encouraging readers of the book to look into what female candidates are running in their area. There is a list of  organizations that support women candidates in the back of the book, including EMILY’s List, Higher Heights, She Should Run, and more. Its refreshing to be having this kind of conversation in the pages of an easy read, the book is not intimidating at all.

While there are sections of Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win that I found a little cliche, overall I liked the book. I enjoyed it. It didn’t really do much to change how I look at women in politics or sexism, but I found it exciting to know a book like this exists and is getting a lot of coverage and is being chosen for major publication’s book clubs (it Marie Claire Magazine’s September Book Club pick, #readwithMC).

If you have any interest in this book, I would say read it RIGHT NOW. Do not wait until November, read it before the midterm. It will feel timely and might help you think differently about the women running for office. Read it, register to vote, and support a woman candidate in your area.

Listen to Jo Piazza talk about Charlotte Walsh (no spoilers) and more on The Stacks

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One thought on “Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza

  1. Hi Traci, I enjoyed listening to you and Jo Piazza. One topic that perked my ears was about bookstagram. I’m only a little over a year into it, so it was interesting to hear Jo talk about it when it was in its earlier stages. I know you’re sort of new with it too, and I’m wondering what you thought of what she said. For instance, she was saying that you see the same books over and over. I agree somewhat, because most people post the bestsellers. I’ve noticed that when I post a bestseller, regardless of the quality of the book, it gets twice as many likes; so I feel obligated to post them here and there. Most of us are trying to grow our sites, so I fall into the “post it for numbers” about once a week. By the way, I’m on a much slower track than you. Congrats on keeping your pace and growth!

    Also, the black thing and white male thing… It’s so much strategy in deciding what to post. As a black woman, I try to stay aware of making sure my black authors are represented, which feels like there is pressure to do so; although, it’s a good thing! My site is diverse, unlike a few others by black people who prefer to feature only black authors. That reminds me of you saying that publishers want to send you “the black book,” not considering your overall capacity, ability, and interest.

    You all were also talking about “the white male.” I notice sites and podcasts that purposely avoid their work. I agree with you that white male authors put out good content, too. 🙂 I probably lack with them (actually, I don’t keep track), because they are probably only 10 – 20% of what I read. As a bookstagrammer, I’m seeing that women read books BY women, mostly, and it is reflected in what they post.

    Just a stream of conscientiousness going on here… wanted to let you and Jo know that the conversation was thought provoking. Thanks! Anita

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