Funny and poignant personal stories and reflections from former first daughters Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush.
Born into a political dynasty, Jenna and Barbara Bush grew up in the public eye. As small children, they watched their grandfather become president; just twelve years later they stood by their father's side when he took the same oath. They spent their college years being trailed by the Secret Service and chased by the paparazzi, with every teenage mistake making national headlines. But the tabloids didn't tell the whole story of these two young women forging their own identities under extraordinary circumstances. In this book they take readers on a revealing, thoughtful, and deeply personal tour behind the scenes of their lives, with never-before-told stories about their family, their adventures, their loves and losses, and the special sisterly bond that fulfills them.
Jenna Bush Hager is a co-host on NBC’s TODAY Show and an editor-at-large for Southern Living magazine. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, written after she served as an intern with UNICEF in Latin America. She also co-authored the children’s books Our Great Big Backyard and Read All About It! with her mother. She lives with her husband and two daughters in New York.
This memoir by the fraternal Bush twins has the forward by their mother, Laura Bush. Jenna Bush Hager is a correspondent for NBC’s Today Show and Barbara Pierce Bush is CEO and founder of Global Health Corps.
They discuss their early life in Midland Texas and attending high school in Austin, Texas when their father was Governor. They tell about life in the Governor’s Mansion and in the White House.
The book is full of heartwarming anecdotes as well as humorous ones. The reader gets a glimpse into the life of the Bushes as well as that of the senior Bush family. Barbara “the Enforcer” Bush has several great one-liners. They discussed the effects on the family watching their maternal grandfather decline due to his Alzheimer’s disease. This is not a political book but a family story.
I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is six and a half hours long. The Bush twins narrated the book. Great to hear their stories in their own voice. It seems to make the book more personal.
I really enjoy stories that share the real lives of famous people, showing them to be just like you and me. I also like books about life in the White House. Sisters First combines both of these elements. Ever since Jenna Bush Hager joined the Today Show as a host, I have really liked her. The memoir Sisters First by Jenna and her twin sister Barbara shows them to be real and relatable. Their childhood memories, teenage troubles, college mishaps, and adult dilemmas are the stories many can relate to. Jenna's love of books and reading have always drawn me to her on the Today Show and I look forward to her Read with Jenna announcement every month. In addition, Barbara's story about her high school friend Kyle's suicide was so moving. These personal stories are funny and touching, and while Jenna and Barbara both relate details of both their grandfather's and father's political careers, there's nothing political about Sisters First. As the title indicates, their focus is each other and that's also the focus of their memoir.
Jenna and Barbara take turns telling stories about growing up in the Bush household, the Texas governor's mansion, and their years as First Daughters. Funny anecdotes from both made me smile. The best thing was getting to know the President through his intelligent, articulate daughters. The love and respect they have for one another is the best thing about this audio book. The entire Bush clan becomes real and appear to be every bit as normal as my own family. Whatever your opinions, once you hear their personal accounts of home life, sisterhood, and the immense love that exists between all, it's hard not to like everyone involved. George W. Bush becomes someone other than POTUS. His girls do a brilliant job of shedding light on the true man, the adoring husband, and the involved father who texts his daughters every day just to check in. Barbara reveals the personal struggles the former President wrestled with during and after 9-11, how some political decisions left his heart in turmoil. Turns out, President Bush is a highly likable guy and it's obvious that he and Laura did a phenomenal job raising two beautiful girls. Jenna and Barbara may have been born twins, but each woman clearly has her own identity. I felt like I was sitting down for a gab fest with two of my funniest, closest friends. Highlights: Barbara's account of the fear she and her mother shared when Pres. Bush threw the first pitch at the World Series one month after the collapse of the Twin Towers. Jenna shares personal stories about her maternal and paternal grandparents that are extremely touching and highly emotional. Best of all, getting to know the REAL family was wonderful. I'll always smile when I think of this warm, charming Texas family. Their example of love, kindness, and compassion is inspirational. SISTERS FIRST lands at the top of my Audible listens this year, maybe even all-time faves. I love this family!
As a lover of presidential history, I've always been intrigued by the lives of the First Families. So I really enjoyed the insights Jenna and Barbara share in their memoir. It was surprisingly deep at times: they reveal the lifelong guilt their mother, Laura Bush, has felt since she ran a stop sign at 17 and killed her high school classmate; Barbara talks -- openly and honestly -- about her high school boyfriend who hanged himself; and they both open up about the way their father's decision to go war in Iraq affected them deeply. They are refreshingly honest when discussing the political differences -- particularly on gay marriage -- they have had with their father, noting that in their family, differences in opinion were respected, that "family loyalty" has never been akin to "political loyalty." I really appreciated that.
There are also funny, sweet, and heartwarming stories along the way: Jenna tells the story of how she mistakenly accepted Henry's marriage proposal when he hadn't actually proposed(!); Barbara talks about the Secret Service agents that followed her and her roommate around at Yale; and they both reminisce about their relatively normal lives growing up in Midland, Texas (which they assumed was the center of the world). And of course they relive their less-than-desirable moments in the spotlight when they were both in college. They pay homage to their grandparents (on both sides!) and offer funny insights on what it's like to be forever compared to your twin sister ("you're the smart one...and you're the funny one!").
Overall, this is an endearing memoir that offers a powerful reminder -- perhaps at a time we need it most -- that people are more important than politics. While they openly disagreed with their dad on some of his policies (and were alienated by some college classmates while he served as president), they have always admired him for his commitment to doing what he believes in his heart is right.
And that's what I love most about this compilation of stories: they reveal the private, human sides of people we've only ever known publicly. 3.5 stars for this quick, endearing read!
I was never interested in the lives of President George Bush's twins while he was in office. I'd see them in the tabloids every now and then for some underage drinking fiasco but for the most part, wasn't interested. But when I saw this book at the airport a few months ago, I was curious what they had to say. After all, they were born and raised in a political dynasty, so they were bound to have a few larger-than-life memories. Sure enough, this memoir, told in alternating voices of the twins, is entertaining as well as thought-provoking. I especially enjoyed the personal letters from their "gampy" George H.W. as well as their father, George W. Bush, which all were clearly evident of the love these men had for these girls and the ways they sought to protect them from the public eye. I teared up hearing George W. Bush's letter to his girls after 9/11. He was fully aware his difficult decision to enter into war would affect them as they were college students and would surely hear a lot of opposition to his decision. His heart for the troops and later, the veterans, led him to continue his work with them long after the end of his presidency (he recently published a book of his original portrait paintings of selected veterans with proceeds going to aid veterans called Portraits of Courage). The stories were a bit scattered, organized by topic rather than chronological order, which was a bit confusing but didn't detract from the overall flow of the book too much. Their honesty, humility (as well as humor) in their past mistakes, and inside look into living in the White House (including being followed around by the Secret Service during college years) were all engaging and fun to read. The girls seemed down-to-earth and though I typically avoid celebrity memoirs, I was glad I picked this one up. Bonus: The audiobook is narrated by the authors with a foreword (that made me tear up) written and read by their mom, Laura Bush.
I've always enjoyed Jenna Bush Hager on the Today show. Both Barbara and Jenna wrote chapters on their memories/feelings as growing up as twin sisters and being part of the Bush family. I found this to be an easy, interesting read.
I just visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas during Spring Break a couple weeks ago. When I got home and went to my local library, this book, written by Jenna and Barbara Bush (George W.’s and Laura’s twin daughters) was right there on the first shelf I came to, so the timing was good, and my interest was piqued.
Jenna and Barbara Bush grew up as the granddaughter of a former President, and then their dad was President. Imagine what kind of a world that would have been to grow up in! Their grandfather, George H.W. Bush’s personality (who the girls’ call “Gampy”) shines through in this book and comes across as much more human than he seems/seemed in the public light.
Their dad, George W., not surprisingly, is reflected in this book as a dad and a real person rather than a former President, and I saw another side of him after visiting his Presidential Library, and after reading this book. Love him or hate him, W has always come across to me as one of the most down to earth President’s, and there’s a lot to be said about that.
I’ve watched these girls grow up, and it is good to see them both happy and successful. I enjoyed this memoir.
Fantastic book. I laughed out loud (much to the dismay of my co-workers, since I read this book at work) and teared up when I read Barbara's recollection of losing Ganny. This was not a political book, but rather a remembrance of a shared life that was surrounded by politics.
I have always admired the Bush twins, and felt sorry for them when the media scrutinized their indiscretions over the years. I have always been thankful that I didn't have to grow up in the spotlight, to have my less-than-stellar decisions up for public discussion.
Former first daughters Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush share tidbits about their lives growing up in a political family.
I listened to this on audiobook (and read the bonus chapter included in the book) and enjoyed that Jenna and Barbara narrated their own sections while mom (and former First Lady), Laura, narrated the forward. The stories they shared were sweet, intimate, and personal. Some stories were heartwarming while others made me laugh out loud. Despite being born into a political family, I appreciated that the sisters were encouraged to form their own opinions, values, and viewpoints. And always, they have immense love and respect for each other!
All my reviews can be found at: http://jessicasreadingroom.com ~~~~ Born into the Bush dynasty, Barbara and Jenna Bush were never going to have a normal life, despite their parents attempting that very fact. And their parents succeeded in that as much as possible. From the moment they were born they were in the public eye and will continue to be.
I am one year older than them, so I really enjoyed this memoir that both ladies co-wrote. Being the same age and growing up at the same time as them, I identified 100% with the ladies. I listened to the audiobook which they both narrated. Their mother Laura Bush narrates the prologue.
You think you know all about the Bush twins with their growing up in the news with Jenna’s troubles and them being in the tabloids, but you don’t. Through this short memoir the reader gets to know the ladies as they grow up with their governor father, then their grandpa becoming President then guess what? Daddy becomes president too! We experience their growing up, their rebellious sides, their heartaches, and fears with 9/11. We see them mature into the ladies they become from the girls they were. The reader also gets to know the Bush family more through this memoir. They have become more like people and less like politicians for me.
We get to experience the beginning of Jenna’s relationship with her now husband. Imagine how he must have felt going to the white house to take out the president’s daughter. Don’t forget, Secret Service agents follow them EVERYWHERE.
There is a sixth disc that includes family pictures that I enjoyed looking at.
No matter your political opinions on the family, this is a memoir everyone should read, because despite everything, The Bush twins are Sisters First.
This was a quick and pleasant read. The Bush twins, Barbara and Jenna, take turns sharing family stories -- frank, sometimes humorous, sometimes touching. This is not a tell-all book. You get a sense of who the girls are and how they developed into likeable, caring and well-adjusted adults, despite growing up under the public eye as the children and grandchildren of U.S. Presidents. And always, the love they have for each other and their family comes through. It's heart-warming without being overly saccharine.
I really wanted to love this book. The chapters were alternating short vignettes, shifting from Jenna's perspective to Barbara's.... but none of the vignettes really went in depth. In the section about living in the white house, one of the sister's mention that showing around the Obama girls was their favourite moment in that house. I wish we had gotten an in depth story about that, rather than the one sentence.
Having said all that, I did enjoy spending time with the Bush sisters and their colossal family, a lot more than I thought I would.
Recommend this for anyone who wants a simple easy to read (and likely easy to forget) overview of the life of the Bush sisters.
Take this book for what it is, ragged and disjointed stories from two young, entitled women who were raised in an affluent political family. If you are a fan of the Bush family then it will be an enjoyable read otherwise you will see it as a poorly written book, told from the POVs of Barbara and Jenna. A problem that is perhaps peculiar to me, I hate when adults refer in pubic to their parents/grandparents by cute nicknames. You can tell us once that you called grandfather George H. W. Bush "Gampy" but when referencing him in your stories how about saying "Our grandfather, etc." instead of "Gampy said, blah, blah, blah'" .
I never thought I would have any interest in the Bush twins, but on recommendation from a friend I picked this book up. I can safely say after finishing the book, I’m a fan! The stories they tell in this book are absolutely amazing! They share everything you want to know and things you didn’t realize you wanted to know! The book is beautifully written and a definite read if you are looking for a good memoir! Including intimate stories of their family and events that happened on the world stage, you won’t be disappointed by this one!
I enjoyed reading this memoir, especially the dual points of view provided in alternating chapters. The close thread tying the twins to one another is evident throughout, but there are as many differences between the sisters as there are similarities, so their stories were quite distinct. I was also struck by the realization that presidential families, up until recently, are bound in a sort of fraternal relationship with one another, wholly apart from political party or philosophical differences. Living in the White House and under similar conditions and circumstances gives them a unique experience in common. The book touches on joyous, sad, touching, and embarrassing moments throughout the two women's lives, narrating them with frankness, humor, and tenderness. Now that I "know" Barbara and Jenna better, I'll be expecting more splendid accomplishments from them.
I absolutely adored the audiobook! It was narrated by Barbara and Jenna with the forward narrated by their mother, Laura. It is easy to tell where Jenna gets her love of books. I loved their stories and it was like getting an inside view of such a different lifestyle than I live!
I have been trying to balance my political reading a little more, trying to understand the conservative perspective more without reading things that I thought may make me want to beat my head against a walk, so when I saw this at the library, I grabbed it, thinking it should be benign enough to fit the bill, and benign it definitely was. While I did enjoy reading about their impressions of their former Presidents/ dad and grandfather as humans versus politiicans (and to be fair, the book truly does humanize them, which is what I was looking for), the rest of the book was painfully boring. Written in alternating chapters by the twins, what became painfully clear as the book dragged on, is that they're both just really privileged, sheltered, normal young women. And oddly, they don't seem to have much, if any, interest in politics- though I suppose thqt makes sense, as their lives have been so blessed and fortunate,that they will never be much affected by policy, beyond it affecting their inheritance one day. So, through most of this one I was bored. Reading about how Jenna planned her wedding and Barbara studied abroad simply wasn't very interesting- actually, beyond having a Secret Service detail and recognizable names, their lives were actually very mundane. The book dragged, but the pictures were cool. The one particularly bizarre section of the book was Barbara describing a long dinner conversation with Vladimir Putin, whom she aeems to characterize as a nice, yet misunderstood man, versus a foreign adversary and dictator. I suppose I found it interesting that the Bush family also had a decent relationship with Putin- I didn't realize that previous Republican Presidents also didn't see him aa a threat (very strange, considering our history with Russia). Just 2 stars.
Completely pleasantly surprised by this book. I was looking for something easy, simple and mindless to read. But what I ended up reading was something insightful and thought provoking.
"It is a reminder that in any debate there are humans on all sides."
"Be true to your heart. It's harder than ever to talk about politics these days. If you love someone, sharing different political views shouldn't be seen as a personal betrayal. Rather, it's a chance to hear and consider your loved one's point of view, while still maintaining your own beliefs. Do not fear doing what you believe is the right thing regardless of who is listening in the wings."
Wow! I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. I listened to Jenna and Barbara read this on audio and it was sincere, funny, heartwarming, and interesting! It was fascinating to hear about their childhood, time in the White House, political views, and --most of all--their sisterly bond.
This book is definitely worth the short, easy read. I love the structure and the fact it reminds you there are people behind any public figure, but not in that cheesy “let’s all be friends even if my political party hates you” kind of way.
“Why aren’t you married?” “If I wanted to be married, I would be.”
Being a twin, especially one who lines far from her sis now, this book resonated with me. I so enjoyed listening to the book in the authors voices and loved how perfectly imperfect they allowed the reader to see them. Always enjoy the peek into life In the White House, especially from the view of a teenager/ young adult. Very enjoyable book.
I really enjoyed the stories that Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush shared in this novel! It gave me a better idea of what they’re like and made me appreciate their love for family and one another!
Lovely insight into these two sisters. Equal parts insight into celebrity and real life. I find their honesty refreshing. Reminding is that politicians are real people and their families are not bound to believe as their politician parent believes. I enjoyed the listen.