Buttigieg's warm, thoughtful narrative voice reflects his approach to local politics: seeing people as individuals who are also part of their community and figuring out how to make their lives better. During a turbulent moment in national politics, it's refreshing to read an account of hope, compassion and plain hard work at the local level. Buttigieg's story is particular to South Bend, but it offers insights for those working to lead cities around the country. His personal journey—as a local boy returning home, a Navy Reserve officer juggling his day job and commitment to his country, and a gay man coming out and finding love while in the public eye—is equally compelling.
Until he recounts writing his coming-out essay for The South Bend Tribune, I had begun to wonder if Buttigieg had decided to airbrush his life story, with an eye to some future opposition researcher combing through these pages. This lends a cautious, sanitized feeling to some episodes ... No one would ever accuse Buttigieg of being an evocative writer, but the story is told with brisk engagement—it is difficult not to like him—without sinking into the kind of prose one might fear from someone trained in writing reports for McKinsey. He writes with particular clarity when it comes to the subject of romance ... After reading this memoir...the notion that Buttigieg might be the nation’s first openly gay president doesn’t feel...as far-fetched.
... Buttigieg writes astutely about real issues facing our communities, such as the proverbial brain-drain of talent and youth; the economic effects of the loss of manufacturing jobs, and how to continue building community across racial, economic and religious lines ... While Buttigieg isn’t stingy with bureaucratic details, he’s equally generous with personal and narrative descriptions, making even the most banal scenes engaging and memorable, such as his conversations with Democratic Party Chairman, Butch Morgan, who wields a landline phone like a weapon. A thoughtful, sincere memoir about one man’s love for his Indiana hometown, Shortest Way Home proves that one needn’t be connected, or a certain age, or of a certain background, to make a difference in a community.