With less than 90 days for the Presidential Election in the US, protests in the streets calling for justice, equality and dignity for all and end to police brutality, reforming ICE and a better address to our this global pandemic; Young Donald is a book that is relevant. Not only is it a satire highlighting the worse traits of POTUS, but when times are so dire, we need to laugh it off.
In Young Donald, Michael Bennett imagines how Donald Trump would have been in a military high school in New Jersey, the days before the glist and the fame came to him. The days before record-breaking reality shows and NTY Best Seller lists. He is just a boy trying to stay afloat and be loved or envied (or both) by all. He is trying to get his dad’s approval and be ready to take over the family’s real estate business turning it into an empire. He is like any boy, but he is also Donald Trump. A pathological liar with no one’s interest at heart but himself, and a inflated (and unrealistic) sense of self-confidence. When his roommate and best friend is found dead one night at school, a fight for preserving his self-interest will ensue. Was it an accident? Did he kill himself? or was he the subject of an international conspiracy?
This book is so funny. It is really a lighthearted satire not suited for any MAGA fans. If you are a Democrat, a liberal or maybe a conservative who is disillusioned with Trump, you will surely find it entertaining. Bennett uses all the typical phrases and excuses, his addition to offensive nicknames and racist views of POTUS and reflects them in his young self. You will also find the terrible stereotypes that POTUS holds dear repeated, and offensive references to Asians, Jews, Catholics, Italians and even New Jersey residents. It is not the author pushing these harmful stereotypes, like that of the Asian model minority or Chinese belonging to triads, but a story narrated by Donald Trump could not have been written otherwise. A man who has made China his focus, could not find a rival any other than a Hong-Kong student, more cunning and yet more decent than himself.
So, this is a story that uses racial stereotypes to poke fun of racism in America. I find it also very telling those who are not there: Black, Indigenous and Latinxs are no where to be mentioned. And that exclusion, I feel talks to the erasure of these communities from representation in upper class circles, like Young Donald’s military academy. But don’t come to it expecting literary fiction or a treatise á la Ibram X. Kendi. It is just a light story for laughs, in this time when we need it most.