book review: spoken from the heart, laura bush

55820344 201x300 book review: spoken from the heart, laura bushTitle: Spoken From the Heart
Author: Laura Bush
Category: Memoir
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, May 2010
Starred Review: 5 out of 5
Note: Originally posted 7.28.10 at Bookshelf360.

I love a good memoir, and Spoken From the Heart is a GREAT memoir.

In the book, Mrs. Bush covers pretty much everything, from the time she’s a small girl, through her young adulthood, marriage and family, and through her husband’s 8 years of presidency. I think it’s easy to think about the first lady in terms just of the president’s wife. But she is so much more than that.

I appreciated the insight and intimacy of Mrs. Bush’s writing. It felt as though she was in the room talking with me as a friend. She recounted many events in her life, her personal struggles, her loves and losses, and her faith and hope. I was surprised with how much she revealed in the book. It is extremely personal and candid.

I’d forgotten how much happened in the eight years George W. Bush was president. 9/11. Hurricane Katrina. The tsunami in Indonesia. An economic crisis. War in Iraq. Etc. etc. I think it’s easy for all of us, no matter what political party, no matter what opinion or anything, to forget that the president and the first lady and their family are just people. They are just like the rest of us. The only difference is that they live in the White House and the president has to lead our nation and make extremely difficult decisions that no one else wants to make.

There were several moments I really felt.

1. Mrs. Bush and President Bush went to middle school together and grew up in the same town, but it wasn’t until a decade out of high school that mutual friends introduced the two of them. She claims a lot of people were wondering why the most eligible bachelor of Midland, TX was marrying “the old maid” of Midland (even though President Bush is older than Mrs. Bush by several months). But it was clear, quickly, that the two of them share a deep and lasting love.

2. One of her daughters was having some kind of crisis, and President was in the residence somewhere comforting her. Mrs. Bush found a White House staffer, elsewhere, crying. And when she asked if the staffer was all right, the staffer replied, about President Bush, that she wished she’d had a father like that.

3. I feel like Mrs. Bush really spoke bluntly about her husband and the toll the presidency took on him. She spoke of him proudly and lovingly. She also spoke frankly about those who spoke out in protest and criticism of him. One of the most profound things she said was that there are only certain men in this world who can truly understand what it’s like to be the President of the United States. That really hit me because I can be critical of other people and dislike certain opinions and such, but really, what gives me the authority to do that when I’m not in their shoes?

I really loved this book. It took me a long time to read it, for one reason or another. But I enjoyed everything she said and was impressed by everything she revealed. Spoken From the Heart was a very comprehensive memoir and an inside look into Mrs. Bush’s life and her husband’s presidency.

Mrs. Bush did so much as first lady. She traveled the world, spoke up for women’s rights and literacy. She started the National Books Festival. She began programs to target young men and worked with boys in gangs. She visited AIDS-ravaged countries and held the hands, comforting, women and children who were dying of the disease. She did so much that I wasn’t even aware of. I can’t imagine such a huge responsibility. But Mrs. Bush not only did it all, she enjoyed doing it and took the time to share her life with us in this memoir. This is definitely a book I’d recommend to anyone else.

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