Take Up Space: The Unprecedented AOC

Avid Reader: S. & S. Feb. 2022. 400p. ISBN 9781501166976. $28. BIOG
In this biography by Miller, with contributions by editors of New York magazine, U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is described as representing the hope of millennial Democratic Socialists to forge a more effective democracy. Elected to represent New York in Congress before she was 30, AOC “invent[ed] a new kind of political discourse—colloquial, brash, and direct,” according to her champions, and her skill with social media enhanced her ability to connect to younger voters. The result: “AOC’s influence is revolutionary.” Both Rebecca Traister, who wrote this book’s introduction, and Miller, the author of the biographical section, write as admirers of the congresswoman: “Before she was 32 years old, Ocasio-Cortez was arguably one of the two or three most influential politicians in the land,” they argue. But her celebrity cost her and she bore the brunt of the anger when, in 2020, the Democrats lost 13 seats in the House. AOC’s attempt to make amends to both the right and the left satisfied no one. As a member of Congress, she had chosen a difficult path, one she is not yet fully committed to, this book posits. Here Miller’s four-chapter narrative biography follows Traister’s introduction; a compendium of brief essays by and about AOC follows the biographical section. It is altogether a messy arrangement.
VERDICT This biography will satisfy political junkies, but it’s not for the uninitiated.
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