Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Levi Hastings

Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg 
illustrated by Levi Hastings
Review Copy from Henry Holt & Co. Books for Young Readers

**The publication date of this book was moved from late-May to late-July. I normally try to post reviews close to the release date, but Pride Month seems like the perfect time to share this great book!

One of the challenges of writing a picture book biography of a presidential candidate before an election is not knowing the outcome of the election. Sanders makes this a non-issue with his superb biography, beginning his book with Buttigieg's quote, "Are you ready to turn the page and start a new chapter in the American story?" 

Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg was born in South Bend, Indiana, to parents who were professors at Notre Dame. While he grew up in a comfortable neighborhood going to football games with his dad on the weekends, Buttigieg was very aware of the "abandoned, crumbling factories," and other signs of economic decline in his hometown. In high school, Pete ran for treasurer and lost. He tried again, running for class president and won. Sanders presents these ups and downs, Pete's perseverance and dedication, alongside other events and interests that shaped him, like playing the electric guitar in a garage band, sledding in the winters and learning to speak French, Spanish, Maltese and Arabic.

Sanders plants the seed of Buttigieg's dedication to serving others during his years at Harvard, showing young Pete looking up at one of the gates on campus bearing the words, "ENTER TO GROW IN WISDOM," with the opposite side reading, "DEPART TO SERVE BETTER THY COUNTRY AND THY KIND." Buttigieg's commitment to public service brought him back to South Bend where, like in high school, one unsuccessful run for office was followed by another successful one. During his first term as mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg, an ensign for the United States Navy Reserve, was deployed to Afghanistan. Returning to South Bend and running for (and winning) a second term, Mayor Pete came out as gay in an op-ed piece in the South Bend Tribune in 2015. In 2018, he married his husband, Chasten Glezman Buttigieg and, on April 19, 2019, Mayor Pete announced that he was running for president. 

Hastings does a fine job bringing diversity to the page, considering that Buttigieg, his husband and family are white. His illustrations capture Buttigieg's youthful energy in a range of settings, from time spent in Tunis, Oxford and Afghanistan to voting centers and Apple Days in South Bend.

While Buttigieg's childhood and college and career path seem a bit 1950s-All-American, it is important to remember the many barriers he has crossed and broken. Although Buttigieg dropped out of the race on March 1, 2020, this quote from June 2019 is an reminder of why his candidacy is historic:

"At the beginning of this decade, it was certain in my sate that you could either serve in elected office or you could be out, but not both. When I joined the military, it was a matter of law that you could either be in uniform or you could be out, but not both. As recently as a few years ago, in most states, you could be in a same-sex relationship or you could be married, but not both. And today, in that same decade, it is possible for a war veteran and top-tier presidential candidate to campaign with his husband at his side." 

Also by Rob  Sanders

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