Book Review: Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush
“I didn’t understand the gravity of my grandfather being president, probably because he didn’t speak about it. While he never hid the fact that he was president, Gampy didn’t want us to think of him that way. He didn’t want us to be impressed by titles. Rather, he wanted to teach us that it was the family moments, the light moments, and the joyous moments, on which we should make our lasting memories.”
Like I said in my Unread Shelf update on this book, I’ve long been fascinated by the Bush family. There is something so interesting about political families and dynasties. The same goes for the Kennedys. When I first heard that Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush were writing a book, I was intrigued. I’ve always liked them and thought it would be an interesting read. So when I was in Birmingham last year for a wedding, I stopped by the lovely Alabama Booksmith and picked up a signed copy of Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life. This is an easy book to pick up when you’re in the mood. Each sister writes her own short essays, so I would read an essay or two, then move on to another book.
Some of my favorites essays were the ones talking about growing up going to the White House and Camp David when George H.W. Bush (Gampy to his grandkids) was President. I especially got teary-eyed when reading emails and letters that Gampy wrote to the twins. It always fascinates me to see how Presidents and other political figures are as regular people. George W. Bush as President is very different than George Bush the Father. I’ve always liked Laura Bush and especially enjoyed reading the essays about George and Laura as parents. Reading stories about public figures’ private lives told from their closest family members has always intrigued me. Barbara and Jenna both wrote essays on their views of 9/11 and George Bush declaring war on Iraq. I appreciate that each sister both has her own views, and while they may disagree with their father on political issues, at the end of the day, they are all still there for one another and have each other’s backs.
One of my favorite stories was of Barbara’s year abroad in Rome, Italy. For the so-called quieter sister, it shocked me that she decided to spend a year abroad while still in high school. I can only imagine how scary that must have been, not only as a teenage girl, but also as a twin. I also loved the story about Jenna and her husband Henry’s early relationship, then the proposal and wedding. I remember drooling over the wedding, from Jenna’s dress to the flowers to the intimate outdoor ceremony. It was cool to see both Jenna and Barbara’s perspective of that time. I also love that Henry had to be indoctrinated to not only the Bush family, but the twins’ bond.
I loved reading about the relationship between these two sisters. I don’t have a sister, let alone a twin, so it is hard for me to imagine their kind of bond. But I loved that even now at different phases of life, they still are each other’s person. If you’re looking for an interesting memoir, I definitely recommend Sisters First. I give it 4 stars.
What other memoirs do you recommend?