DAVIDSON, N.C. author Elizabeth James' humorous and thought-provoking novel, My Liberal Education: How I Survived the First Four Years of George W. Bush , details a career move to a red state and a series of eye-opening adventures which spark a political awakening for an aspiring journalist in the dawn of the current Republican reign.
Pandora Duncan is an attractive, 25-year-old "heterosexual of average intelligence" who leaves a progressive family in urban Baltimore to advance her journalism career at a small-town North Carolina newspaper. The action spans the first four years of the George W. Bush administration as it follows Pan's development from an apolitical, self-absorbed woman without direction to a mature liberal activist.
The transformation takes place as Pan interacts with a diverse group of people: Ethan Earnest, her idealistic young boss; Caroline Evans, her evangelical officemate from the religious right; the Walton family, her black neighbors; Joelle and Carlos Figueroa, a conservative Hispanic couple; and Dr. Jerry Dobbs, a Texan orthopedic surgeon, who is cautiously middle-of-the-road politically and competes with Ethan for Pan's affection. Billie and Lizz, a committed lesbian couple, round out the story and teach Pan about love and inclusiveness.
My Liberal Education explores a myriad of topics as Pan experiences romance, religious soul-searching, violence, danger, mystery and tragedy. As she navigates her Republican-dominated reality, she also struggles with such life-changing events as Sept. 11th and the eruption of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
While the tone is often-humorous, raunchy and satirical, the intent of this book is deadly serious: to explore every American's responsibility to be informed, to take a stand on vital issues and to honor citizenship and safeguard democracy with the same passion one brings to personal relationships.
Set in lush, Southern surroundings that add a rich layer of atmosphere, My Liberal Education is a politically charged story with both sensitivity and bite.