There are numerous benchmarks of achievement in high school, whether social, athletic, academic or personal growth. School is a busy, often overwhelming journey, and carving out one’s identity may include a mix of of the above. What is often missing, however, is one's political voice. For many, cynicism about politics starts at the dinner table, but for others so does the realization that, no matter how bad things are in Washington DC or your own community, one dismisses politics at his or her own peril. Politics affects our lives in subtle, sometimes seemingly invisible ways; if we’re not paying attention, it’s our fault. The Parkland, Florida shootings sparked an awareness that one’s protest, combined with others, can lead to a movement, and a movement can lead to significant change. But the effort requires courage, time, and an understanding of history.
My new novel, The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election, centers on a history teacher who asks his AP students to write their term paper on where their lives will be in ten years. Britain, a political novice, finds her entire identity challenged in a student body election. Once the gates of self-knowledge open, it feels both dangerous and overwhelming, but she doesn’t run from her new voice, she runs to it. She rewrites her essay for history class, realizing where she wants to be rather than where everyone expects her to be.
“This novel contains political and socioeconomic messages about the current state of things and the recent future as well. Its brilliance is that it wraps complex concepts into an easy-to-follow story that is surprisingly relatable to all ages. An incredibly engaging book." - Gerry Orz, an eleventh grade activist, author and filmmaker, attending Connection Academy in Capistrano, California.
Michael R. French
Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University. He is a businessman and author who divides his time between Santa Barbara, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.