Fraternal twins and philanthropists Jenna (Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, 2007) and Barbara fondly portray the peaks and valleys of life carrying the Bush surname.
Determined to “de-emphasize that there was anything unduly special about being a Bush,” parents George and Laura protectively raised the authors with structure and honor. Jenna, named after her maternal grandmother, was more outspoken, a self-described “boundary pusher,” while Barbara remained thoughtful and pensive. Told in alternating narratives, the book honestly illuminates the experience of being a family member throughout the Bushes’ two generations of political prominence. Both women write vividly and affectionately about their differences and theorize that perhaps it was their “inborn duality” that made it easier for them to tolerate the random public assumptions made about their parents’ yin-and-yang personalities and proclivities. The sisters agree that in many ways, George’s boisterousness and penchant for reading and Laura’s “closet hippie and Rastafarian” ways mirrored Jenna’s melodramatic, emboldened recklessness and Barbara’s careful deliberations on life, love, and family. Both contribute an assortment of personal anecdotes about their time growing up in Midland, Texas, and the family lexicon, which had pet names for everyone. As young members of the Bush clan, each sister reflects on living through the presidencies of their grandfather and father, the tabloid media and general public scrutiny their family endured, details about the Secret Service and White House life (ghost stories included), and how some risky globe-trotting in their teens ultimately freed and matured them. Jenna bemoans her loss of anonymity as a charter school teacher during her father’s term, which placed her in the cross hairs of critical students, and she admits to an imprudent youth. The description of the crushing reality of their grandfather’s descent into Alzheimer’s disease is particularly heartbreaking, but the twins’ sisterly love is evident throughout.
An enjoyably nostalgic scrapbook stocked full of memories from twins born into a political dynasty.