The President’s Daughter by Ellen Emerson White. Feiwel and Friends, 2008. 304 pages. Publisher recommends for ages 12 and up. President’s Daughter series, #1. Originally published in 1984. ISBN: 9780312374884
Meg Powers is a high school junior with all the normal high school junior issues. Her mother is beautiful and seems to be good at everything, except spending time with Meg. Meg’s working to establish her independence from her parents. Her younger brother Steven is in Middle school and is hard to live with. Her youngest brother Neal is very cute. She has friends and crushes and tries to keep her grades good (A-) but not too good (A or A+). She goes to a public school in a suburb of Boston. Clothes are a constant issue. Her mother is one of the two U.S. senators from Massachusetts. One day, after beating Meg at a game of tennis, Meg’s mother tells her she’s thinking of running for U.S. President.
Meg has to adjust to her mother being gone even more of the time. And her father is also gone helping his wife campaign. Sometimes Meg and her brothers are even called upon to help with the campaign. Meg’s life becomes more and more public as her mother’s life becomes more public. Meg must get used to being that candidate’s daughter, and then to being the president’s daughter. She grows throughout the book. Much of the growing is in ways that most teenagers are not called on to grow (for instance, she must adapt to the Secret Service watching her whenever she’s in public). However, especially in her relationship with her mother, she grows in the ways most teenagers grow.
The book is fast-paced. There are paragraphs explaining the way a presidential election works in the U.S., but they don’t detract from the pace. The story is told in third person, but in places, especially when interspersed with dialog, the storyteller has Meg’s voice. There’s plenty of dialog, so we hear Meg’s voice firsthand as well. Both Meg and the third person voice swear periodically.
“The President’s Daughter” makes a wonderful primer on the way a presidential election campaign works, as well as how the first several weeks of a presidency work. It’s also an excellent escape for anyone who has any interest in presidential politics.