Bush, Laura. Spoken from the Heart. New York: Scribner, 2010.
This autobiography chronicles the life of former First Lady Laura Bush from her childhood in Midland to her now after the White House years.
I feel like I've just sat down with Laura Bush and listened to her life's story. I liked how the book was written in a conversational style. One anecdote might be folded into a related story and the flashbacks are not distracting. These eight chapters, giving the book over 400 pages and including pictures, fulfills my curiosity about Laura Bush.
I feel like I was in Midland in the 1950s. Bush recalls her childhood stories and how, through time and reflection, she understands the lessons of her early life. Almost apologetically, Bush recounts how things were in some instances (i.e., adults drank and smoke).
I learned about diplomatic relationships and how little touches are a huge planning event. She writes about starting a National Book Festival (She was instrumental in starting the annual event in Texas, which I've been to once and hope to attend again.) in Washington, D.C. and asking various writers to attend. One particular invitee refused because his politics did not match President Bush's. I didn't realize one could actually refuse a White House invitation. However, some writers that initially didn't want to attend found that Laura Bush indeed read widely (Bush 281). I feel as if I've traveled to parts of the world with her and the entourage, learning about other cultures and finding out just how the logistics of that travelling is done.
Mrs. Bush has a keen sense of humor. I don't think the media showed that during the eight years she was First Lady. She also has a great compassion for people.
Mrs. Bush values her friends. She and her closest friends decided to celebrate their 40th birthdays by hiking. This celebration became an annual event. (I think I will steal this idea if I can find some adventurous friends that are willing to hike). Friendship is important to Mrs. Bush, as she often refers to people as "my dear friend" and writes that "friendship is what nurtures us" (Bush 267).
After 9-11, the White House indeed changed. Bush recounts the many threats and constant worry that the staffers held with each plane flying overhead and how the mail basically stopped because of the Anthrax scare. She writes how she and President Bush visited the many families affected most directly by the events of 9-11: the Pentagon employees, the plane in Philadelphia and of course, New Yorkers. Mrs. Bush provides a unique perspective to our post 9-11 world. No other person knows the President like she does. She writes, "I am proud that, as president, George acted on principle, that he put our country first and himself last" (Bush 421).
I giggled when I read how the Bush family named their pets for Texas Rangers baseball players. One of my favorite childhood players is Scott Fletcher. "Spot got her name in honor of the infielder Scott Fletcher, Barbara's favorite" (Bush 167). I'm not sure the connection, other than perhaps Barbara could not pronounce "Scott."
She ends the book with the present and talks about the "little" ranch in Crawford and the gated street in Dallas on which they live. She explains that "just as during the presidency, nearly every minute is accounted for" but there is a more relaxed tone to her life now. I think she's ready for the next adventure.
SIDE NOTE: I wrote more on this book, but I didn't save before trying to view, so much I had to recreate. I don't think this is as good as my original thoughts, but I've learned that auto save is not something I should rely upon to keep my thoughts. HA!