The President’s Daughter by Ellen Emerson White

The President's Daughter
Ellen Emerson White

Angie is continuously pimping Ellen Emerson White so I finally took the plunge and bought the whole President’s Daughter series this year. This is the first book.

The Premise: “Sixteen-year-old Meghan Powers likes her life just the way it is. She likes living in Massachusetts. She likes her school. And she has plenty of friends. But all that is about to change. Because Meg’s mother, one of the most prestigious senators in the country, is running for President. And she’s going to win.”

My Thoughts: I had to steal the blurb for The President’s Daughter because when I tried to come up with the premise myself, all I could think of saying was: “Meghan’s mom, a senator, runs for president. The title gives you a clue to how that turns out.” The premise is simple, and the plot is straightforward. There aren’t any crazy plot twists, or drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what happens next. Although the election happens throughout the book and Meghan is politically aware, the book follows Meg, not her mom, so the political life is conveyed by someone in the periphery. It’s fascinating to see glimpses of the election process from someone close to a candidate and to see how the media treats Meg’s family (and how Meg herself deals with it),  but it’s not what I feel the heart of the book is about.

What the focus of this book is Meghan and her family. At the first glance, the Powers are incredibly All-American and privileged. When the book begins, Meghan (or Meg), is at a country club meeting her mother to play tennis. The other members of the club greet her mother as “Senator Powers” and afterward, they go home to a housekeeper, Meg’s two precocious brothers, and her lawyer dad. It’s all very American Dream, but the dynamics within this family that are universal. If you’ve ever smart mouthed at a parent to get a laugh, or said something cutting which you immediately regretted, then you’ve been a teenager and you will understand Meg.

I found Meg to be one of those girls you admire in high school. She knows how to present herself well and she has a quick wit and her mother’s looks. She’s aware that people are watching her for any mistakes she may make, and she is smart about how she acts, but on the other hand, she isn’t thrilled she has to keep herself in check. Knowing that she looks like her mom, and that boys are suddenly asking her out after her mom started running, Meg isn’t above secretly wanting her mother to lose the election so her life can go back to normal. The years growing up with a mom who has a job that keeps her away from home is another bone of contention.  These are the undercurrents that run throughout the book, and yes, something comes out of them, but the drama in this book is over quickly.  Meg is a kid with a certain amount of sense, and when she makes a mistake, she recognizes it fairly instantly. This includes boys. Meg is not immune to a pretty face, but she sorts through who the good guys and the not-so-good guys are in a way I found very satisfying.

Overall: I had a hard time with this review. After I finished, if someone asked me what happened in this book, I’d find it difficult to make the plot sound exciting, but I really enjoyed it for the humor in the day-to-day lives of the Powers family. Don’t read the book for pulse pounding action, read this book for the interactions between people. When Meghan is with her family, they play off each other. They zing.

(This is a review for the reissued version of the book, not the original that came out in the 80s. I believe it has been updated to make it more modern).

Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository | Book Closeouts (currently 99 CENTS!!!)

Other reviews
Robin McKinley reviewed it! (and liked it quite a bit)
The Book Harbinger – positive
Chachic’s Book Nook – had a lukewarm reaction

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9 thoughts on “The President’s Daughter by Ellen Emerson White

  1. Your review has reminded me that I haven’t finished reading all of the books in this series. I liked the second one a lot better than the first. The President’s Daughter was pretty quiet and like I mentioned in my review, I didn’t quite understand all the American politics involved in the story.

    • Yeah, I didn’t grow up here either so I thought it probably made more sense to people who had experienced at least one U.S. election and had an idea of what the houses of legislature do and what the common policy issues are. It’s a good jumping off point though.

      Looking forward to reading the second one!

  2. Oh, you started them! This is excellent.

    I’m glad you liked the Powers family. Very interested to hear what you think of the next three. They, um, increase in complexity. And zing

  3. I love how you put it that nothing really happens, but the book is still so full of great family dynamics. I think this is my favorite fictional family! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the rest.

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