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The President's Daughter Paperback – July 22, 2008
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The first incarnation of this book about a teen whose mother becomes president came out in 1984. Now White has updated it without doing a total rewrite, ensuring that some of the best parts, particularly the family interactions, remain. Sixteen-year-old Meg Powers is used to having a mother in office, but running for president is a horse (or donkey, in this case) of another color. Her candidacy seems like such a long shot that Meg and her younger brothers don’t worry much at first. Then she wins, and life as Meg knew it is over. With such a long time span to cover (primary season through post-inauguration), White sometimes tells rather than shows, especially during the first half of the book. But once the family moves to Washington, she vividly captures what it’s like to live under a microscope, especially for subjects who didn’t want the attention in the first place. Besides offering a solid look at the political system, this has very strong characterizations, especially of Meg, trying desperately to be her own person, and of her mother, who is both a cool, ambitious politician and a guilty parent who knows she is rarely giving her family what they want and need. Grades 7-10. --Ilene Cooper
“Rarely have I read such a nuanced, realistic, understanding and forgiving mother/daughter relationship.” ―A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
“Her characters are sometimes sarcastic; they are also honest and vulnerable. Over and over, I believe her characters to be real; fully formed; I would recognize them on the street. They are flawed, they are funny, they are a mix of good and bad. They are complex.” ―A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy on Ellen Emerson White
Top customer reviews
Meg has to adjust to her mother being gone even more of the time. And her father is also gone helping his wife campaign. Sometimes Meg and her brothers are even called upon to help with the campaign. Meg's life becomes more and more public as her mother's life becomes more public. Meg must get used to being that candidate's daughter, and then to being the president's daughter. She grows throughout the book. Much of the growing is in ways that most teenagers are not called on to grow (for instance, she must adapt to the Secret Service watching her whenever she's in public). However, especially in her relationship with her mother, she grows in the ways most teenagers grow.
The book is fast-paced. There are paragraphs explaining the way a presidential election works in the U.S., but they don't detract from the pace. The story is told in third person, but in places, especially when interspersed with dialog, the storyteller has Meg's voice. There's plenty of dialog, so we hear Meg's voice firsthand as well. Both Meg and the third person voice swear periodically.
"The President's Daughter" makes a wonderful primer on the way a presidential election campaign works, as well as how the first several weeks of a presidency work. It's also an excellent escape for anyone who has any interest in presidential politics.
The covers of all three of the reprint editions are hideous; the first one shows a girl who looks to be about 8 or 10 years old instead of a teenager. ...
If you can get past all that, these books are marvelous to read. The first book in particular was very entertaining and educational to boot. I learned a lot about the nomination process used at the Democratic National Convention. Meg's "voice" is unique and distinctive, and a lot of the book is laugh-out-loud funny. Again, I am grateful to Hawk for reprinting these, even if the quality is a little disappointing.
I'm 36 now, and I've read one heckuva lot of books. But two of that stay with me are "The President's Daughter" and "White House Autumn." Like the very best in young adult fiction (Harry Potter, etc.), the themes are universal, the characterization is excellent, and the glimpse into another world is fascinating.