Let me start by saying that I don’t typically read middle-grade books, but my niece and nephews are getting to that age where they can start reading “real” books, and being the awesome aunt I am, I’m going to shower those ragamuffins with literature. So, I read this in preparation for that. While this book says it’s about the issues First Daughter Audrey faces when she is uprooted from her comfortable life and whisked away to the White House, and then plopped into a school that felt like “Mean Girls” meets “Cruel Intentions” but for children, none of that really mattered for the story. You can take away the whole living in the White House thing and this story stays pretty much the same: a young girl whose parents aren’t giving her enough attention or freedom, acts out in an attempt to be treated as “not a child”. Which, as “not a child” anymore, sounds silly because rebelling in that way has the opposite effect, but I guess this is what sounds good to kids these days…
To be honest, I found this book to be just ok, but mostly frustrating. Audrey came off as shallow and self-centered, where after a year of living in The White House, she is still playing the “woe is me” card, and her parents are so insufferably dense about their own kid’s actions, that I didn’t care for any of the characters. I understood the angst, I could empathize with the loneliness a child would feel when they are stuck in a place they don’t have any control over, where their parents are too busy to see that their child is suffering, but Audrey was terrible at helping her cause, and it left me just not liking her for 85% of the book.
The thing that originally made me excited about this book was the historical fiction aspect. I was so intrigued with how the author would weave that into a book aimed at kids. But, sadly, there isn’t much of a historical fiction tale to this. Alice Roosevelt is a real person, she was a “rowdy” First Daughter, but outside of the, again, superficial basics of this historic woman, we are told very little about her, or the era she’s from. I felt like this was such a missed opportunity to instill a love of history in young readers! I wanted there to be more interesting tidbits about Alice Roosevelt that went beyond the shared angst these two First Daughters seemed to have in common, but that never happened. Additionally, the author does include some civil rights discussions, especially around gay rights, but this felt so tacked on that I don’t feel it got the attention it deserved, either.
Like I mentioned, this book was just ok. I was hesitant about giving it to my niece as she’s a bit young right now, but after reading it, I think Audrey’s antics, how oblivious her parents are, and the superficial history and civil rights elements that are present, makes this book better suited to younger readers, not middle-grade in my opinion. Despite the mild romance elements, there’s nothing even on the cusp of being “mature”, hence why a reader as young as 7 would probably enjoy it much more. I’ll give this book to her and see what she thinks, though I doubt it’ll bump up my rating from the “it was just ok” 2 star rating.
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!