In her debut novel Sammy's Hill, Kristin Gore treats readers to an insider's view of life and love on Capitol Hill. In fact, the view couldn't get much more inside the Beltway, especially coming from former Vice President Al Gore's daughter. Still, Sammy's Hill is witty and engaging enough to prove that it's not always who you know, but sometimes how well you tell their stories.
Samantha Joyce, Gore's heroine, is a 26-year-old self-deprecating health-care policy advisor to Robert Gary, a well-respected senator from her home state of Ohio. Between endless work days, a grueling campaign schedule, and frequent trips to the pet store where she seeks advice on caring for her listless Japanese fighting fish, Sammy finds time to obsess over her new boyfriend, sexy speechwriter Aaron Driver. As things heat up with Aaron, Sammy's work schedule takes on a new intensity when Gary becomes the Democratic candidate for vice president. Along the way, scandal clouds both her personal and professional life, and our heroine discovers the often salacious underbelly of life on the hill.
Gore is best-known for her work as a writer on television shows such as Saturday Night Live and Futurama, and her comedic talents certainly shine through in this first effort. While at times the banter is overly constructed, and Sammy's neuroses can become grating at best ("...a sore throat was never just a sore throat--it was much more lively the beginning stages of Ebola, rickets, or wasting disease."), Gore does a good job of creating a protagonist who becomes ever more likeable as the book progresses. Thrown into the mix is a delicious sprinkling of hilarious Blackberry exchanges that round out this clever contemporary political adventure. --Gisele Toueg