Being a woman is hard. Being a woman in politics is even harder. Allison Winn Scotch’s pitch-perfect new novel, Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing, beautifully dives into this harsh truth, and, honestly, it could not come at a more fitting time.
Cleo McDougal has had her future mapped out forever. Congresswoman at twenty-five. Senator at thirty-one. Nothing can stand in her way from her next stop as the presidential nominee–except for maybe her childhood best friend’s scathing op-ed and the accusation, “Cleo McDougal is not a good person.” Does Cleo have regrets? Certainly. 233 of them at last count. But what keeps the brilliant single mother successful is her drive to always move forward and never look back. When her chief of staff comes up with the idea for Cleo to take a “No Regrets” tour, owning her mistakes and making amends, Cleo must face every complicated decision she’s ever made and accept the fact that long-buried secrets can’t stay locked in a drawer forever. Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing is a heartfelt and honest look at impossible standards of womanhood–those unfairly put on us by society, and those we unfairly put on ourselves.
I’ve been a fan of Allison Winn Scotch for a long time, for her wit, her complicated characters, and her way of engrossing you in a story the minute you pick it up. From start to finish, Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing is a complete joy to read. Cleo is a character you can relate to and root for, whether she’s coaching her assistant on how to stop apologizing, hopping on a flight to boldly face her past, or resisting every urge to tell her teenaged son to wash his hair. While Cleo’s regrets are uniquely her own (regrets involving her law professor, too much bourbon, and, for reasons she can’t remember, brownies), her overarching struggles are universally female. When is the last time you heard a male politician—or a man in general—criticized for being too ambitious, not smiling enough, not wearing shoes that make their legs look good, or—God forbid—having a few gray hairs? Cleo’s journey is humorous, heartwarming, and utterly human, deftly exploring gender disparity, motherhood, friendship, and the idea that our pasts—the good, the bad, and the in between—shape who we are.
Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing is not only a compulsively enjoyable read, it’s an empowering read. If you’re looking to be entertained and inspired, do yourself a favor and pick up this book. I promise, you won’t regret it.
Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing is out today! Order your copy from bookshop.org, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or your favorite place to buy books. For more on Allison Winn Scotch and her wonderful, wonderful books, check out www.allisonwinn.com and connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.