‘Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography’ by Kate Bennett

Melania Trump is an enigma. She’s beautiful and so intriguing, perhaps because she is a very private stoic Slovenian, and not an enthusiastic emotive American. We don’t know much about her, and that makes her even more mysterious. Don’t we all wonder how she could be married to someone like Trump? She has spoken out publicly about how toxic social media can be, especially for young people, and yet her husband is the leading bully in that arena. She’s done a number of confusing things that people have wondered about. Why did she wear that jacket to the Mexican border with the phrase, “I don’t care, do you?” stencilled on the back. And what of the ‘pussy bow’ choice for a blouse, after that lewd comment uttered by her husband on a bus hit the press. Was it protest? Is she naive? Does she truly not care? Then there was that speech that was plagiarised almost word for word from Michelle Obama’s speech. And yet she says nothing about any of it.

After thoroughly enjoying Michelle Obama’s top-notch autobiography Becoming, I was curious about this one. There is no comparison. Obama’s memoir is heartwarming and inspirational and shows how the Obamas as a family were a class act in the White House. Obama is a principled, intelligent, self-sacrificing individual, making herself authentically and vulnerably known as she tells her own story. Becoming is a beautiful read. Free, Melania on the other hand, is an unauthorised biography, written by a journalist who covered Melania Trump for CNN. Because it contains information from Bennett’s own experience as well as tidbits gleaned from other reporters and various sources, the book has a gossipy tone and much of it feels like speculation. It offers context, satisfies some curiosity, and perhaps provides a bit of understanding, but is certainly not enlightening or inspirational in any way. The Guardian has an interesting article about her, claiming that no matter what you think of Melania, there has never been a First Lady quite like her: click here. It’s worth a visit, even if you don’t read Free, Melania. And for the record, there’s one more mystery. No one really seems to know what that comma in the title of this book even means. If you have any idea, please let me know.

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