A celebratory gathering of memories from Barbara Bush's friends and family, featuring her own quotes.
“You might question how someone who left this good earth two years ago could be the author of a new book,” writes Jean Becker, who worked for Bush for nearly 30 years. “Simple, really. It was her words—that made this book possible. It is indeed written in her voice and in her spirit.” Beginning with a who’s who glossary of the extended Bush family and their circle, which included statesmen, writers, and celebrities, Becker loosely groups Barbara’s advice on family, living well, and literacy, among other topics. A patchwork (some may say scattershot), round-table approach yields colorful reflections on a woman who was known as “The Enforcer,” Barb, and, to her grandchildren, Ganny. More than the first lady’s advice—which draws on sensible optimism: “You can like what you do OR you can dislike it. I choose to like it, and what fun I’ve had”—it’s everyday situations that lead to original, unscripted quips. Sometimes, frightened staff recall Bush's graceful way of handling the unexpected and of putting everyone at ease. Family who visited Kennebunkport recount her no-nonsense yet loving discipline, and friends who witnessed the Bush’s marriage depict the couple's mutual respect and banter. Such memories reveal a plainspoken individual who was prone to faux pas yet could laugh at herself. Writings from Bush's children mix gentle humor with awe, as when her son, Jeb, calls her parenting a "benevolent dictatorship." This is a fond retrospective that sometimes repeats biographical details and nuggets of wisdom. In the author’s note, Becker apologizes for the repetition, which dilutes the focus. Readers seeking insight on a dynastic political family will find a down-to-earth, humanizing portrait of a much-loved matriarch. Those hoping for novel wisdom will find unsurprising comments on gratitude, kindness, love, and living fully with joy.
A tribute to an American icon that brims with love and hope.