Book Blogger and fellow book enthusiast Mandy (aka the Well-Read Wife) is holding her first ever Mandy's Blogger Book Club. The inaugural book is America, You Sexy Bitch by Michael Ian Black and Meghan McCain.
I was glad to attain a copy at Book Expo last month and psyched to participate in Mandy's book club. Other bloggers can feel free to participate by visiting Well-Read Wife or reading the book and posting about it as well.
In my review I'm going to tackle a couple of questions Mandy has posed about the book for discussion as well as my overall thoughts about the book.
America is told from the perspectives of Meghan McCain (daughter of Senator John McCain and political blogger & pundit) and Michael Ian Black (comedian and actor, for me best known for The State). It's like a journal entry from both interspersed about their 30 day travels around the heart of America from Vegas to Tennessee to Louisiana to DC.
We start off learning how anxious Michael and Meghan are to actually be delving into this project not really knowing each other, but having decided to ride cross-country in an RV talking to the heart of America. Michael has said Meghan is one of his favorite Republicans and Meghan notes that she is a fan of Michael's. Having seen Meghan handle her own on Bill Maher's show I liked her side of things. While Meghan is conservative when it comes to the main aspects of the Republican party (small government, fiscal conservativeness, freedom to bear arms) she is very much open to other platforms that have been considered more "democratic" or liberal in nature (same sex marriages and the legalization of marijuana).
As someone who considers herself a liberal it's nice to get to know the perspective of someone raised Republican and still connected to the party as a young woman. Meghan has had premarital sex, doesn't always go to church, and can drink many under the table. She's not ashamed of this but apparently these aspects of her personality, and what makes her relatable to a younger audience, seem to be chastised by the harder conservatives catering to the overtly religious. I think Meghan could be a great representative for her party and rather than being shoved to the back as some "little girl" she should be pushed to the forefront more as someone that a younger generation can relate to, especially when it comes to the Republican party, who is often considered "out of touch" and catering to an older sect in society.
Meghan loves her country and proclaims that "Freedom doesn't come free." Michael is elitist and jaded and can't understand organizations like the Log Cabin Republicans. And I can't disagree that many of us liberals may become that way and openly say how sick our country makes us, whereas Meghan can say we must take the good with the bad.
Michael and Meghan foster a kind of big brother/little sister relationship along the way despite their differences in opinion on many things. And it's noted at the end that when looking at the way Michael and Meghan live their lives one may put Michael in the more conservative category (married man in a quiet neighborhood in Connecticut with two kids and a nice house who has a lot of "White guilt" and is averse to drinking and strippers [you have to read how he handles himself in Vegas to get the info on that]) and Meghan more in the liberal end (lovely young fashionista who does not leave her house without having make up on, dates, drinks, and dances living in major cities and who loves, loves Vegas as a getaway). Meanwhile their interiors are completely switched. Intriguing, no?
What I enjoyed was learning more about how both Michael and Meghan listened to the other side. That after awhile it wasn't just about yelling louder to be heard but taking in what your partner is saying and responding to it in a way that makes sense while also considering their opinion. I think both represent what America needs more of: listening! Each side is too eager to paint the other bad and even Obama who wanted to be "the great uniter" hasn't succeeded because the other side is just not willing to listen. So what do you do?
One of Mandy's discussion points is that Michael notes America needs a mission statement, a clear declaration of what our goal is as a nation and I agree. America has always considered itself the "Land of the Free" but this seems to contrast a lot of what we're being told these days. No freedom for same sex couples, no freedom for the poor, no freedom for immigrants, and a staunch protection for corporations and the rich who can aid in funding political campaigns.
Meghan's comment of "Freedom doesn't come free" seems quite trite to Michael initially but upon thinking about it further and meeting more people from destitute areas of the U.S. where race is still a dividing line that it isn't something to be laughed at when considering it further. People have died for various freedoms earned and people died to right many wrongs. So while it may sound cliche it's not, not when you really ponder the truth of the matter.
Overall, I'd recommend America, You Sexy Bitch because it really gives you a clear vision of people who are malleable in their consideration of the bigger picture. It's not staunch liberal criticism or conservative hooey, it's a mixture with both sides learning more about different religions like Mormonism and Islam and talking to rich and poor while learning what makes people lean the way they do whether they are working class or middle class or straight up poor. It's also funny to read how Michael and Meghan relate to each other and look deeper into themselves. The kind of reflections they note are both humorous and heartfelt.