Jenna Bush Hager, granddaughter of President George H. W. Bush, first lady Barbara Bush and Jenna and Harold Welch, says, “As long as I’m alive, my grandparents will not be forgotten. I hear their voices in the letters they sent me and in my memories. They offer comfort, support, and guidance, and I will listen to them always.”
Her book is a collection of rare and intimate stories of how her grandparents affected her life, from early childhood to her loss of three of those grandparents in 13 short months just last year. Her grief is new, and she invites her readers to walk through it with her as she reflects on her memories, which she now sees through her own lens as a woman two generations later.
The Bush family’s Christian faith is woven throughout and welcoming to readers. My own tears ran as I read her prayer for her “Gampy,” former President George H. W. Bush, thanking God that he has entered the embrace of God, where people light the heavens like a “thousand points of light.” (A term used by George H. W. Bush in his speech accepting the presidential nomination.)
I fought tears as I remembered the loss of my own treasured grandmother when Hager shared stories about life with her grandmothers and how empty she felt with the loss of them. I laughed as she recounted former first lady Barbara Bush calling her and her teary husband “two John Boehners.” (Speaker of the House Boehner cried a lot.) I was surprised by how easily she dismissed the fierce attacks on her father by the press. I came away disappointed that she focused almost entirely on the famous Bush grandparents. And I felt she tried a little too hard to show us that her grandparents had evolved—in the end—to embrace the liberal and moral values she embraces in her book. You will enjoy this book if you believe conservatives should evolve to be more liberal to “make all things beautiful in their time.” If you would rather leave the elder Bush family members as you remember them, this is not a book you will enjoy. (William Morrow)