“First Kids” forever live in the spotlight once one of their parents assume the role of president. It’s not uncommon for gossip magazines to run “tell-all” stories about these residents of the White House. Yet, this is an insane amount of pressure on young children, no matter what their parents’ party affiliation is. Recently, we’ve seen both the Obama girls and Barron Trump be scrutinized by the mainstream media, but they certainly weren’t the first to feel the heat of an unwanted spotlight.

Twin sisters Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, daughters of Bush 43, recently penned a book describing this unique “First Kids” experience. Sisters First begins with a foreword from their mother, Laura Bush. It gives insight into one of America’s political dynasties through the eyes of two women who grew up in the middle of it. We know them as “the Bush twins,” without much recognition that they are, in fact, unique people despite their shared DNA. With this new book, we can finally see them as individuals and as distinct parts of the American political landscape today.

At 236 pages, the conversational book is easy to read, yet draws you into the fascinating social world of American politics. Not only do readers learn about the twins’ lives as “First Kids,” but Jenna and Barbara offer various anecdotes about the rest of their family, including letters from both their paternal grandparents, Bush 41 and Barbara Bush.

The Bush family, despite two presidencies, numerous governorships and other political positions, seems remarkably normal from Jenna and Barbara’s perspective. The book details family trips to Maine, whirlwind romances between their parents and grandparents, and their own careers and lives upon becoming established adults. For instance, they tell of former First Lady Barbara Bush scolding her son, Bush 43, for putting his feet on the table during a family gathering, and the twins recount stories of them getting in trouble as young girls. These instances allow us to relate to those, specifically Jenna and Barbara, in one of the most politically powerful families in the country.

Yet, as the sisters assert, there are more moments that remind them that they aren’t just normal thirty-somethings. Pizza restaurants have hung up on Barbara upon hearing her name, as they assume it’s some kind of joke. The twins’ college years were different from ours, to say the least, with body guards and their names splayed across magazines. Despite these abnormalities, the Bush girls assert that they are sisters first. They say that relationship has forever protected them from the perils of the lives they were given.

Surprisingly, the book avoided politics except for one chapter by Barbara, which describes her own ideological journey that differs from her parents. Instead, the book is a work that focuses humanizing the women – and their family – who were absolutely ostracized by the media during their father’s eight years in office. In fact, the work offers an important lesson in the current political climate.

Barbara, perhaps, writes it best, “It is a reminder that in any debate there are humans on all sides.”

Also slightly related to politics, the twins describe how jabs against their father felt personal even though they knew that really, they were simply political. After all, Jenna and Barbara were older when their father ran for office. Their experience on college campuses was forever altered by his political career. Think about all the propaganda you see every day walking to class. Now, change all the names to your father’s. That’s the world that the Bush twins lived in.

Without a doubt, the book reminds us, in one of the most divisive times in American political history, that at the end of the day, politics is just politics. There’s so much more to the Bush family – and to all of our lives – than the (R) or (D) next to our names when we walk into the polls every couple years.

Whether you’re a fan of the Bush clan, or simply curious about the lives of political families in general, Sisters First offers incredibly insight into the lives of the White House’s younger residents.

Get your copy here.

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Karly M.
Karly Matthews is a student at Temple University, where she is majoring in political science and journalism while minoring in Spanish. At any given moment, Karly can be found talking about Marco Rubio and advocating for conservative values with a large coffee mug and color-coded planner in hand.

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