There are moments here where Buttigieg seems to be pushing things a bit: The story of his piano recital with the South Bend Orchestra is cute but not the stuff of greatness. On the other hand, his candid discussion of what it’s like to come out as gay while serving as a small-city mayor and, especially, his warm and engagingly hokey description of falling in love with the man who would become his husband break important new ground in a pre-presidential autobiography ... And in [Buttigieg's] description of his military service in Afghanistan as a Navy Reservist, the lack of drama is admirable. He identifies himself with the rank-and-file; there is no puffed-up heroism here. He is, however, properly critical of the failure of those who share his elite educational pedigree to join the military in a time of war ... these pages make a pretty good case that city halls just might be better training schools for the presidency than attendance at any five years of congressional hearings combined.
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'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.