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Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward
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Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  719 ratings  ·  95 reviews

"Valerie has been one of Barack and my closest confidantes for decades... the world would feel a lot better if there were more people like Valerie blazing the trail for the rest of us."--Michelle Obama

"The ultimate Obama insider" ( The New York Times ) and longest-serving senior advisor in the Obama White House shares her journey
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Viking
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Jarrett’s parents were educated. Her father was a pathologist and geneticist. Jarret lived her first five years abroad. Her father was posted at a hospital in Shiraz, Iran. Before returning to the United States, they traveled the world. Her great grandfather, Robert Robinson Taylor, was the first black student to attend M.I.T. He graduated in 1892 and became the country’s first black architect. Jarrett tells of her early life, education and difficulties with racism. Jarrett graduated from ...more
Denise Billings
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First, might I say that I bought the book at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival where Valerie Jarrett spoke. I didn't have tickets to the event (they sold out immediately) but I hoped to get my book signed. I waited outside where the book signing was to take place. I was one of the first three people in line. We'd waited 20 minutes when we were told that Ms. Jarrett would not be signing books. It was a special event where "Friends of the Festival" had pre-paid for pre-signed books and a photo ...more
I really enjoyed reading this book. Aside from the fact that it’s a significant plank in the Obama hagiography edifice, Jarrett is a genuinely likeable person with an interesting life. All this kept me reading when I might otherwise have been put off by the writing. Some of the most obvious problems (such as spelling mistakes!) could probably be attributed to the fact that the book was published really quickly. However, there’s a more fundamental problem. It feels as if the “collaborators” — I ...more
Dan Bell
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book as a Goodreads Giveaway.

In Finding My Voice, Valerie Jarrett discusses her upbringing, her early career in government, and her friendship with the future First Family. Overall, it was a pretty quick read that provided an interesting perspective of the Obama Administration, to include some challenges and successes. I appreciate that Ms. Jarrett acknowledged early in the book that much and more has to do with luck, as some senior government officials make it sound like they were
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read all of my reviews at

Last year I read Becoming by First Lady Michelle Obama. In it, she mentions her meeting Valerie Jarrett and how that changed the trajectory of her career path. So, when I learned that Ms. Jarrett was writing a book of her own, I was excited to get a copy of Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward and read about her life, her perspective of the Obama administration, and how she sees the future.

Similar to Mrs. Obama's book, Ms.
Matt Graupman
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Who is Valerie Jarrett? Even to political junkies like me, the longest serving senior advisor to President Obama (in fact, she was the longest serving senior advisor in White House history) was always somewhat of a mystery. Having enjoyed a long personal history with the Obamas and working quietly behind-the-scenes for the majority of her tenure, she didn’t really enter the American consciousness until after she left public service and was the subject of a misguided and startlingly racist tweet ...more
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tops
Ok, so it was all I knew that it would be!!! I enjoyed hearing her story, her travels and her personal life as to what was expected of her but she chose to be happy! Not once did she bad mouth her spouse and that was simply wonderful to me. Her daughter has grown up and is successful and the cutest thing was the fact that her dad was on point which in turn did not allow any bullshit to enter her pathway!

Also, I will read any type of autobio/bio WRT the Obama Admin because I simply adore them as
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed listening to this book, read by the author.

An intelligent woman who worked her way up through the ranks to become one of President Barak Obama's most trusted advisors and who stuck with him through thick and thin!

As a woman and a woman of color, she gives an interesting and important voice to the political scene she was drawn into and of which she became an integral part.

Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was a good read. Ms Jarretts early life and upbringing were interesting. She doesn’t hide the fact that she comes from a bit of privilege compared to the average back citizen like Michelle Obama. Her time in the White House was not a super interesting part of the story. It seemed to drag on. I am glad she found her voice. It’s obvious that she thinks very highly of her parents. Her story however describes her life as near perfect, short of her failed marriage. Though I enjoyed the read, I did ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Personal and poignant.
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
It was ok. Nothing earth shattering. It was kind of boring at times and went into too much detail about her extended family. I have enjoyed other Obama staff memoirs more.
Robert Pacilio
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I loved Valerie...her back story; her honesty about her marriage; her slowly moving path to politics ; her tight relationship with the Obamas; her (and their accomplishments); and then the bitter ending with the awful, obstructionist Republican party led by McConnell. All clearly spelled out and filled with heart and soul. One really gets a gut check on just what it takes in this crazy world of polarized politics to accomplish something meaningful for the greater good of Americans--from the ...more
Daniel Cuthbert
I received an ARC of this book and leave my thoughts below.

This is a rather interesting biography of a figure that I thought I knew a fair amount of from following the Obama presidency, but was pleasantly surprised to find some fascinating perspectives that really help make this particular biography a welcome read.
Her own personal biography is one that should prove to be an inspiration for those struggling to find a place in life. Easy to pick up and fascinating to go through, well worth a
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed listening to the first half of the audiobook. Valerie Jarrett had an interesting upbringing and story to tell. However, once it got into the political stories and ties, my interest diminished.
Marilyn Katz
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you, Goodreads, for my copy of this book. I found it a quick read that I thought should have been more interesting. I really wish Ms Jarrett had concentrated more on her early years and family then her years at the White House. Those early years were fascinating
Kumari De Silva
Oct 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this book for a book club.

Valarie Jarrett worked hard and had a fascinating life. The early part of the book was what I liked best. Her words on her family and her childhood were warm and interesting and lovely. If I were a writing short stories teacher I would say, "Yes! you are writing what you know, and it jumps off the page." It was a very good way to learn the history of Chicago, of the South Side, of Hyde Park, (the neighborhood where I grew up.)

But as the book went on I found it
Dominique King
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Valerie Jarrett's story of being a long-time friend to Michelle and Barack Obama and serving as one of the longest-term senior advisor during President Obama's term in the White House. I enjoyed the story of her unique childhood experience, when her doctor father moved his family to Iran (where Valerie was actually born) in order to take advantage of a job opportunity when good opportunities were not really available for black surgeons here.
The family found it's way back to Chicago during the
Dawn M
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Points of View

Enjoyed getting to know this optimistic, accomplished woman and about her path to the West Wing as a senior advisor to President Obama. Many lessons about staying the course and focusing on your true North during life's inevitable storms. Thought provoking references to having "a village" of family to raise your children with rich support systems and at the same time find your voice in the halls and board rooms of influence. The author takes us with her on an amazing, accomplished
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First, I loved this book and the honesty of her telling her story. It is very readable and nuanced. I am amazed to realize how old I am and how much "younger" people have accomplished and how focused they are. I was so proud of our country and what it was accomplishing and how many dedicated, talented people were taking roles in making the Obama years such a success.
What I really want to write about is how mad I am that awful people are spamming this book on Amazon. So many one star reviews by
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good companion read to Becoming. Jarrett has been friends of the Obamas for a long long time. A lot of the stories are the same but told from Jarrett's viewpoint. Her affection for the Obamas is evident. Her own life is inspirational. If you know any girls who are considering a career in public service, this is a great life story. She's devoted her life to working in the public sphere. Her compassion and humor shine through. Her dedication to helping others is a big part of her life. As a ...more
Kingsley Oteng-Amoako
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the book much of her examinations both in the Whitehouse and prior to joining the cabinet bethinks the influences and the lushness of a Chicago insider. My initial impressions were of incertitude, as to how another book from the Obama Presidency might fare but Valerie Jarrett’s work was then rescheduled to be out later. There is a significant amount of background which in some parts makes for substantial reading; as a discussion of class boundaries the book yields later into a discussion of ‘ ...more
I am so glad I ended up reading this so close in time to Michelle Obama's memoir. The two works dovetailed nicely together and reminded me how far we've come, and how far we have yet to go. As a newly minted attorney, I especially enjoyed reading how both women hated working in corporate BigLaw and ended up going to work in Chicago city government.

Ms. Jarrett's story was inspiring and moving, even bringing me to tears towards the end when she recounted her father's final illness and the impact
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book! Was really fun to read sections that covered things that were in Michele Obama's book and see where there were a few differences. Also one mention of Alyssa Mastromonaco and it was a story that was identical in her book. Probably would have given it five stars except the title was just so misleading. The path forward was given a total of about five pages.

Edit: A few days later I came back and I changed the rating to a five, because this book made an impression on me. I've brought it
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-2019
Jarrett tells of her struggles and family support to make a career as a single mother and the to succeed becoming an integral member of the Obama administration. She grew up in a somewhat privileged situation with educated parent, but still faced many problems as an African American woman. Her insight into the politics of her eight years is most interesting as are her anecdotes about the situations she found herself in. Her message to be positive, to work together and even though circumstance ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
I liked her writing style though I kept looking for more about how things get done - she seemed to write carefully, in a manner that would not embarrass anyone; consequently, there wasn't as much "meat" about the process as I was hoping for. This is NOT a "kiss & tell" story rather it's the authors reflections on her life and events that were important to her. Interest in itself, but not quite what I was looking for.

She is a stud, though :) No doubt about it. I'd have been happy to work for
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The *problem* with bios is that they mention other reading sources and then my to-read list gets even longer. That's what happened while I was reading BECOMING and found out that the person I knew as Barack's long-time advisor actually knew Michelle first. So then I wanted to learn more about Valerie's story and discovered that she had just published a memoir.

I loved learning Jarrett's back story and rise in Chicago politics. There are lots of personal anecdotes about knowing the Obamas. It's a
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This autobiography of someone who was a senior advisor in the Obama administration for all eight years is an interesting read. Her early years outside the United States and her formative years in Chicago played significant roles in her career choices and in the success she has had. I received a copy of this book when I attended an event at the city's library where the author was interviewed. She presented as a talented and likable individual. The talk motivated me to read the book, and I was not ...more
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finding My Voice was both enlightening and interesting. I embraced and appreciated the encouraging words from an Obama era insider. The book is easy to read and effortlessly moves around in time. Finding My Voice complements Belonging by Michelle Obama giving two different perspectives to the Obama years from Chicago politics to the White House. I recommend this book to young readers, book clubs, and those who want to reminisce about a time when the country was moving in a different direction.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book, especially after also reading Mrs. Obama’s book! Such a personal look at the Obama Presidency! I cried a lot. Thank you Mrs. Jarrett. I have met and frequently connect with your classmates from Northfield Mount Hermon. Even my daughter’s plastic surgeon is from Mount Hermon. 1956 was a very good year. Insight into the sacredness of your personal life is much appreciated. Thank you for your service! Endless blessings! ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I got an ARC in a Goodreads giveaway.

Finding My Voice is part autobiography and part political memoir. It is an easy and quick read mostly due to the lack of details. Do not expect any "juicy" details/stories in this book or new insights into how the Obama family/administration functioned. I am sure this book is inspirational to those who are black and/or women but otherwise, it is just like most other Obama staff memoirs in that you will take away few lessons and is self-serving.
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Valerie Jarrett was the longest serving senior adviser to President Barack Obama. She oversaw the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls. Before joining the White House, she served as the chief executive officer of The Habitat Company in Chicago, chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, commissioner of Planning and ...more
“The first is that the community, including the elected officials, must feel that they have been heard and that their concerns are taken seriously. The second is that everyone has to feel a win, not 100 percent of what they want, but a tangible victory for themselves, or if they are in elected office, for them to deliver to their constituency. Third, everyone has to leave the table at least a little bit unhappy, for that’s compromise. That there was a give and take and the process was fair. In other words, you” 0 likes
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