Book Review: GRACE

Jennifer M Koskinen
2 min readApr 4, 2023

The minute I started reading I saw it coming, and indeed, GRACE has officially jumped to become one of my *all-time* favorite books. The kind of book I hugged, often, between laughter and tears.

Written by Obama’s chief speechwriter, GRACE is an intimate glimpse into the process of creative collaboration — between Obama and Keenan, yes, but also it’s about the collaboration of words and ideas, policy and a vision for a more perfect union… an alchemy of time, stress, creative thinking and caffeine.

The narrative of ten particularly iconic days in the Obama administration unfolds at high speed, fueled by mess-hall meals, black coffee, Miles Davis, artificial light, smoke-breaks, bourbon, sleepless nights, friendship, more coffee and above all — a team of singularly driven good people working to make life better for, well, everyone.

Cody Keenan mentioned at a book signing that he “didn’t want to write a typical memoir.” But from what I’ve learned of memoir writing, he’s written the perfect one: a larger story with a clear and propulsive narrative arc, into which he’s artfully threaded details of his own story.

The result is exquisite: a gripping story of the grueling evolution of a eulogy no one initially wanted Obama to deliver. The story itself is at once universally relatable (the kind of raging self-doubt…