“American Wife”


American Wife

I wrote about this book this past week before I was finished. This is what I said:

I’ve been reading this book. Several of you told me it was one of your favorites. Reading the summary, it looked like a story I would love. Are you sensing my hesitation?? The book…it’s dragging. I have about 40 pages left and I will finish it, but it’s been tedious. The story as a whole: yes. It’s intriguing. But I thought this was more about a woman who entered the White House as the President’s wife, but didn’t really want to. Didn’t fit in. As someone who answered that I would love to be Michelle Obama for a day to see what it’s really like to live in the White House, I was so excited about this. But, (and if you are planning to read this, maybe skip to my next bullet) only the last section is about her time in the White House. Also, the first 3 sections are fairly sequential. They will mention past events or give a little anecdote to supplement what is happening, but mostly it’s in order. The last section? Bounces all over. You never see what it was like during the campaign. The time is 2008, but most of the last section spends its time in the previous years. Throwing in tidbits that are important to the story, but apparently not important enough to actually be in the story. It just frustrates me. I feel she knew she wanted this story to include time in the White House, but she let the rest of the story go on too long, so it got shoved into the end of the book. Maybe the last 40 pages will save it? Maybe?


I’m torn. Very torn. Like I said, I thought it would be more about the time in the White House, so I was very disappointed in that respect. I think more time could have been given to that and it would have added to the story instead of the time shuffling in the last section.

Also, before reading, I had no clue it was based on Laura Bush. When I read that in the foreword, I paused. I won’t discuss politics, but I wasn’t a Bush fan for my own reasons. I was afraid this was going to be a political book and I wasn’t into that. I wanted a good romance book with a little intrigue. But I read anyways.

And I liked it. Truthfully, until the last section, I liked it a lot. I loved that it wasn’t cliché and that she was such a devoted librarian. I personally want the Giving Tree she made. And the Yertle the Turtle.

I thought she should have talked to her friend earlier about her romance with “Charlie”, but I liked them. I think he brought some life to her otherwise mundane life, and I think she settled him down. The way Sittenfeld describes Charlie makes it hard for me to see George in him, but I’ll give it to her. I saw “W”. I can use my imagination.

I thought she was very human and very real. I liked that not everything worked out perfectly, but she was still so very likeable.

My issues with the book are these:

1. I think the summary on the book presents it as a different story. There is nothing wrong with the story that it is, but it’s not what would be expected when you read the jacket of the book.

2. The last section needed to be expanded to really do it justice. I won’t pretend I know how to write a novel or I could write a better book, but if it’s based on Laura Bush, at least give more insight into the beginnings at the White House. Moving in. Getting used to the staff. Campaigning. Those things. Don’t skip ALL of that and just have the last 100 pages be a throw together. It drove me nuts. The back and forth, the commentary, that at times felt preachy. Gah.

Basically, the end ruined the book. Maybe I needed it to end in section 3 and then she could write an entire other book for the last section.

*****BIG SPOILER*************

However, I liked that she didn’t vote for him. I found it amusing. Then wondered if I could have done that or would I have just done what was expected? I like that she could still be her own person and she wouldn’t bend her beliefs just because her husband decided to run for President.

I was 13 when Bush was elected. My biggest concerns were when the next Backstreet Boy concert was and how to convince my dad to buy tickets. Oh, and who was my friend that week. And learning I liked boys. 13 was a lame year.

So as I was reading the book, I was constantly wondering what had really happened in her past and what was made up for the book.

The car accident? Real. Her views on abortion? Real. No clue if she really had one, however. Personally, none of our business.

It actually makes me want to read her biography and I don’t usually like or read non-fiction.

So that’s my review. I liked the first part. I didn’t like the end until the last 5 pages.

What are your views about this? I know some of you shared, but now that I’m finished and know the end, what were your thoughts?



Filed under Favorite Books

4 responses to ““American Wife”

  1. I read her biography right after I read American Wife. I really enjoyed her biography- I agreed with you- I thought AW was just so so. I really hated the rape scene.

  2. Sarah

    1. This book is the reason I went into library school. Truth. Even thought it was such a small part of the book, it really resonated with me and I wanted to be a librarian because of this book (I even said so in my personal statement in my application).

    2. I actually got the book, “The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush” because I wanted to learn more about LB. Sittenfeld used that as a reference for writing this. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. I also really want to read her autobiography. Like you, I wasn’t the biggest Bush family fan, but after reading this book, I have become fascinated by her.

    3. B and I have talked about it before–he is interested in a career in politics–and I told him that I’m not sure if I would vote for him. He can’t believe I wouldn’t vote for him, but we differ A LOT when it comes to politics. I loved that she didn’t vote for her husband and that really resonated with me as well.

    4. I’ve heard rumors that LB had an abortion–even before this book was published–but have no idea if they’re true (though I imagine they aren’t). Most of the book’s political views are based on LB’s actual political views–she was somewhat more liberal than her husband and did actually invite prominent Democrats to the White House to discuss their varying political views.

    5. I’m glad you liked it. You should definitely try Sittenfeld’s other book, “Prep.” It’s really good and an easy read.

    • You and I thought a lot about the book. I think I’m going to have to read the book Sittenfeld referenced. I guess I was just young for much of Bush’s presidency and I thought she was just quiet and agreed with him. Apparently not. I, too, am now fascinated by her. Maybe we can both read the book and then talk about it. haha

      And Prep is on mys list of to-read!

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