Aug 12, 2012

Throwback: The President's Daughter

It being an election year and all, coupled with the fact that I love to reread books I loved when I was a youngin', I decided it was a great opportunity to reread Ellen Emerson White's The President's Daughter.

It's a world where the first female president of the US is elected and the story examines the impact it has on her family, not on the country.  I like that.  The arc about the sometimes strained relationship between Madame President and her teenage daughter Meg can sometimes get a little tired, causing you to sometimes want to scream at the book "WOULD YOU NOT BE UPSET IF YOUR DAD WAS PRESIDENT AND AWAY ALL THE TIME?!" but it's still a fun, quick read when it delves into her relationship with the rest of her family and her friends.

I learned recently that it's the first in a series of four...the first written in 1984 and the fourth written in 2007.  I cannot wait to read the rest of the series to see just how different the first and last are. Why? Because The President's Daughter is incredibly dated. That's not a bad thing.  It's fascinating really. 

Here's what I really love about the book:

-There are about 100 references to Tab.  TAB.  Teens today don't know what Tab is.  I didn't even know what it was when I first read this book in the 90s.

-There's obviously no mention of social media. The campaign managers constantly remind Meg and her brothers to be on their best behavior because their every move will be scrutinized. That is completely false.  Well, for the time the book was written, it's true.  But compared to the live-tweeting that takes place these days, hese kids practically live in the middle of nowhere.  There's a scene where the opposition's children decide to throw a tantrum and knock things out of Meg's hands and threaten them in public. That would NEVER happen today and if it did, it would be all over Twitter in a matter of seconds.  It would probably be Instagrammed too, because that's a thing.

-The way the campaign works is also completely different.  In real life,not a day goes by that my in-box isn't flooded with e-mails from the Obama campaign, that I don't read a bunch of articles about what Obama's family is doing, that I don't look at memes that compare Mitt Romney with Lucille Bluth, etc etc (my personal beliefs, although it's pretty clear that I'm a crazy liberal).  In this book, there's a more obvious separation between the candidates and the public.  That is unheard of today. 

-The last part that made me love this throwback experience was that the first half of the book takes place in Boston, something I either glossed over years ago or just plain forgot.  The references to landmarks that I pass daily made it a pleasant reading experience.  It also resulted in a lot of laughter.  Case in point: On the T, Meg takes the Newton line from Government Center to Chestnut Hill and it takes 20 MINUTES.  I actually laughed out loud on the T when I read that.  It's more like a 20 minute wait for that T to show up and then you spend 20 minutes at the Fenway stop while pushy Red Sox fans figure out how to board. 

All in all, this throwback made me happy.  I think it's definitely worth reading, not because it's a work of art, but because it's fascinating to compare a pretend 80s presidential campaign to what's going on around us now. 

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