The BLOG: Voices

Bush Twins’ Wild and Funny Sister Act Comes Alive in New Book

Strung together like their grandmother’s signature pearls, Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life is a collection of well-rounded tales written by Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager. The twin daughters of President George W. and former First Lady Laura Bush knot together history’s timeline with relatable milestones of life, co-authoring a memoir that honors the bonds of sisterhood and their family’s abiding sense of global humanity.  

In Sisters First the thirty-five-year-old granddaughters of President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara veer away from recounting a jewelry box’ed set of heirloom privileges. Instead, they write of skinned knees, broken hearts, and the perils of pushing Ganny too far. Included in the chronicle is an intimate foreword from their mom, an emoji-trimmed favorite Bible passage from their dad, and loving notes from their grandparents, Ganny and Gampy. The luster of their work is its ability to evoke laughter and tears by sharing pen-pal-style anecdotes of a family. Sisters First is not a dynastic work of history; the twins consider it to be a 236-page love story.

Recently, at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, NBC’s Today Show anchor Hoda Kotb introduced Barbara and Jenna to a crowd of more than 300 people. Inside the Cultural Center, Hoda prompted the tandem to tell “stories of their wild and wonderful life.” Reminiscences of cool picnics by the sea in Kennybunkport, and hot summer nights lying on blankets stargazing in Midland were followed by the girls regaling Y guests with the unintended consequences of taking an elementary school monkey-bar dare, falling for the wrong boys as young women, and show-boating as adults when Ganny was around. 

With stories that traveled from Maine to Texas and around the world, soon more than 300 people were doubled-over roaring with belly laughs.  As Hoda and the crowd howled at Jenna’s school-girl melodramas, vast discrepancies between sisterly SAT scores, and a wonky fortune cookie wedding proposal, the girls celebrated the fraternal differences of each other’s abilities, ambitions, and lifestyles.

Simultaneously sister-speaking over each other, Barbara and Jenna claimed then dis-claimed a psychic ability to read each other’s minds and finish each other’s sentences. Like many people comfortable in their own skin, the twins seemed ever-ready to laugh at themselves or cry when something tugs at their hearts. 

Of equal number at the Y event were sober moments, the kind that hushes a crowd in an instant. Barbara explained in a few ways how the gravitas of 9/11 weighed on their dad. In Sisters First, she wrote of President Bush throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for Game 3 of the 2001 World Series.  To comfort our nation symbolically, as the Yanks faced the Diamondbacks on October 30 that year, the first pitch had to scream from the top-of-the-mound straight across the home plate of Yankee Stadium.

Later, Hoda paused to wipe away tears as the twins remembered a time their dad was uncharacteristically sulking through dinner. Despite constantly nudging him to be “dad” the President left the table without explanation.  Mrs. Bush later told the sisters he had just received word a helicopter had crashed.  All the men were lost to the War on Terror. The juxtaposition of his happy family and the calls he was about to make to families of the fallen froze that moment, and the audience who listened to the girls relive times of national tragedy. 

Filling the remainder of the book-launch event, stories of other familial bonds, discourse, and expectations preceded a meet-and-greet photo-opportunity with the First Sisters.  Their self-effacing mannerisms continued to offer a snapshot of the family that accepts leadership responsibilities and shuns the arrogant affectations of political entitlement.

In gratitude for a lifetime of comfort they offer each other, Barbara and Jenna began writing Sisters First on November 9, 2016. “On that day after Election Day, when the world felt so divided, we couldn’t help but think how awesome it would be if other women throughout our country and the world could recognize their sisters and the sister-like people in their lives who gave them strength.” 

That sentiment parallels a speech delivered recently by their father at the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  “Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In the World” alluded to a time in our history when differences of political thought fostered progress with civility rather than threatening civil war.

This past month, without name-calling or finger-wagging, the Bush family continued to deliver milestone, geo-political commentary casually strung together in their signature style, honoring the family’s legacy of an abiding sense of global humanity. 

Sisters First:  Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life celebrates the richness of family, friends, and faith; for all people, for all time.   Consider it Book Club-worthy.

The Bush twins — Barbara and Jenna — pose with New Boston Post’s own Diane Kilgore.

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Barbara Bush is the CEO and co-founder of Global Health Corps, an organization that mobilizes a community of young leaders engaged in health-equity believing health is a global human right. She lives in New York and travels extensively.

Jenna Bush Hager is a correspondent on NBC’s Today Sow and editor-at-large of Southern Living Magazine. She lives in New York with her husband Henry and two daughters, Mila and Poppy. 

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