A must-read young adult book

Politics are pretty much at the forefront of my life right now. I eat a regular diet of the news every day though I take in much more than I should. With that in mind,  Micheal D. French’s new young adult book, The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election, is just up my alley. I also find the book a great learning vehicle for young folks who are and/or want to get involved in politics. As we saw from our recent mid-term elections, more young people than ever are participating in politics in a very smart way.

Don’t you love the cover? I do. Here’s my review.

Review of The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election
by Madeline Sharples

Brit Kitridge was definitely a beginner when she decided to enter a high school election as a candidate for student body president. But she is smart and learns very quickly – especially about her major opponent, Matthew’s ties to money and other political shenanigans that he and his team use to ruin her reputation and try to get her to bow out. She doesn’t budge. Instead she gets more embroiled into the politics game and ends up the winner.

What I liked most about this novel is its connection with the politics of our day and that so many of our youth are getting involved. And that the youth as described by Michael D. French in this novel are all so smart. The dialogue especially turns out be his sounding board for how he wants us to know about his characters and what and how they think. Though at times I thought the dialogue a little too erudite for high school students. French dispels that concern by explaining the excellent academic status of the Hawthorn High School, the school in the story.

Brit’s main adversary, Matthew, has a particularly crooked sidekick, Nathan, and a rich businessman who funds his campaign and pays all the members of his campaign team. Brit instead has surrounded herself with her favorite history teacher, her parents, her good friends, and an unknown hacker who keeps giving her clues that help her campaign and uncover what her opposition is doing. She is running on truth and transparency, while Matthew, with Nathan’s help, runs on lies and secrets. Sounds familiar to me.

I found The Beginners’ Guide to Winning an Election very interesting, face-paced, and not easy to put down. I highly recommend it for our young adult readers – especially those who want to get involved in politics, as so many do these days. It’s a great way to learn the election ropes.


About The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election

The year is 2025.  The United States is afflicted with global cyber attacks, economic crashes, foreign wars, and lots of anxiety.  State budgets for public schools are hit hard .   In a student body president race in a small city Indiana high school, popular, charismatic Matthew has his own consultants, bloggers, oppo researchers, and funds from an unidentified source that have helped him win every election since ninth grade.

Over-achieving, introverted Britain is a novice to elections, but as a history wonk, politics fascinate her.  She also has a crush on Matthew.  After she joins his SBP team, someone hacks Matthew’s website, leaking stories  that the candidate is far from the Eagle Scout he pretends to be.   Matthew and his team of 15 call the stories “spineless lies.”

Britain is stunned when she’s scapegoated by Matthew as the mystery hacker.  Kids dump on her for betraying the school leader.  Her reputation in shreds, she decides to enter the presidential race to clear her name.  No one gives the novice a chance, but that only makes Britain more determined to find a way to win.

With the help of her three good friends, “No more secrets” becomes Team Britain’s slogan.  For a while she stumbles in her campaign, until the anonymous hacker begins leaving notes in Britain’s locker, telling her which rocks to look under if she wants to beat odds-on favorite Matthew.   She puzzles over who exactly is helping her—her favorite history teacher, an apostate on Team Matthew, or one of the many “undecideds” that impact any election?

Every mystery solved leads Brit to face a more complicated challenge, some threatening her  existence….

  • Paperback:272 pages
  • Publisher:2018907650 (November 25, 2018)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:1732511705
  • ISBN-13:978-1732511705

Amazon Link:   https://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Guide-Winning-Election/dp/1732511705/?tag=wowwomenonwri-20

About the author

Michael R. French graduated from Stanford University where he was an English major, focusing on creative writing, and studied under Wallace Stegner. He received a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur, and starting a family.

​In addition to publishing over twenty titles, including award-winning young adult fiction, adult fiction, biographies ad self-help books, he has written or co-written a half-dozen screenplays, including Intersection, which has won awards in over twenty film festivals. He has also had a long business career in real estate, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His passions include travel, collecting rare books, and hanging with friends and family.  He describes his worst traits as impatience and saying “no” too quickly; his best are curiosity, taking risks, and learning from failure.

French’s work, which includes several best-sellers, has been warmly reviewed in the New York Times and been honored with a number of literary prizes.

Book Endorsements

​“Michael French has penned a fascinating, fast-paced, futuristic story about a determined high school senior named Brit who runs an against-all-odds campaign for student body president. There are scenarios that bedevil the imagination: dirty tricks, cyber and other tech attacks, love intrigues, and a picture of how the personal  growth of one individual can shape a collective future. As a politician with several elections under my belt, I couldn’t put the novel down.”
—Governor Bill Richardson
Former member of Congress, US Ambassador to the United Nations, US Secretary of Energy, and Governor of New Mexico

“Politics and kids. Michael R. French knows them in everyday life and in high school. Politics squeeze the kids, and the kids squeeze back. What happens matters in the hearts and minds of young people as well as in the larger world that shapes us all. This is a smart novel with vision, and a story full of feeling.”
—Frederick Dillen
Author of Hero, Fool, and Beauty, Wall Street Journal favorite book

“If you like cheering for an underdog and savor a complex, exciting story that seems to spring from today’s events, you’ll love The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election. We could use more real heroes like Brit, the leading character in Michael R. French’s newest novel. She’s a young woman with tremendous tenacity and a strong moral compass who rises above her innate shyness to make a difference in her world.”
—Anne Hillerman
Author of the New York Times best-selling Leaphorn/Chee/Manuelito mystery series


  1. Hi Madeline. Thank you so much for your very thoughtful review of my novel, The Beginner’s Guide to Winning an Election. I probably didn’t highlight this point enough, but for me, the title word “guide” refers to Brit’s history teacher, Mr. Wilson, and to history itself. That was my main motive for writing the story. If you know that learning history can sometimes predict the future, even your future, you can navigate to your goals with confidence. Michael R. French

    • Madeline Sharples says

      My pleasure, Michael. I wish you huge success with your “guide.” I was particularly taken with Mr. Wilson. All best, Madeline

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