When Reading About Real People in Fictional Situations

I recently read the two novels that make up author Andrew Shaffer’s Obama Biden Mystery series: Hope Never Dies and Hope Rides Again. They both came out within the last two years, and while I’ve always been meaning to read them, I finally made the time and effort to sit down with them both as of recently, as we near the date of the upcoming presidential election.

I think I was wise to choose this current moment we are in to read these two novels, as opposed to right when they came out. If you’ve read these crazy adventures of our former president and vice president fighting crime, then it’s clear as day that they are both byproducts of what life has become in the United States under the current administration. But reading them right now in this moment, as we reach the final countdown of an election where Joe Biden is part of the race, to read books told through his perspective during a time when he was still undecided on whether or not he would even run brings a new lens to him now.

Although the stories in these books are all very fictional, they stem from a lot of truth in both the circumstances presented and the very real people that are being portrayed. At the same time, the books also do a good job of making light of how the world at large sees them; whether that be from a more meme-driven perspective, to – shall we say – “moments” they are best known for (cue the suit Obama is wearing on the cover of Hope Rides Again).

It’s fan fiction! It’s not supposed to be taken too seriously, and seeing that the two leads are people who don’t take themselves too seriously – aside from what they choose to do as former world leaders, that is – it works! I also realize that I’m contradicting myself by having read these novels, as someone who claims to not like fan fiction at all. But I think what these books have shown me is that I can appreciate fan fiction if done right and, more importantly, done tastefully.

The novels are hilarious to read and incredibly thoughtful about where we are right now as a country. To taken the time to read them in this moment brings a new sense of – for lack of a better word – hope as we start filling in our ballots.

Cover images by Aaron Hunt from Pexels

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