Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Review ~ Spoken From the Heart, by Laura Bush

You don't have to like her husband or be a Republican, to love Laura Bush.

If you're a mother, a daughter or a wife, it will be impossible for you to not enjoy, Spoken From the Heart.

Being a writer is naturally and undeniably part of my reader's personality. Not sure if that's a good thing, but I can't get away from it. I considered Laura's book, not just a memoir, but a memoir that could help others write a memoir. It's a conversation I have heard a lot of lately, the overwhelm of memoir writing. Laura has achieved what a fellow writer and I decided to be the best way to do it. Laura tells stories, one after the other, sometimes stories within other stories. She seems only concerned with that story and there's no concern for the stories connecting, or gaps in the years. Perhaps that year had no good stories in it.

Laura talks about her parents and grandparents. She makes your heart ache for the old fashioned sort of love that no one remembers anymore. She tells sad stories and serious, makes jokes and shares her wisdom. She reminds me of my three favorite, whimsical women. My surrogate mothers who don't know that's what they are!

Twenty years before I was born, Laura and her family spent summers in my backyard. She longed for sisters and brothers and adored a favorite grandmother, with the same name as mine. She has a love affair with school supplies. By the middle of her book, you know her, or you want to. She is normal and regal, all at once.

Best of all, Laura tells about a time that I could only know through stories and she does it well. For some people, history is hard to get interested in, too slow, too...old. But Laura makes it interesting, funny, even attractive.

When I read, I take notes. I write down quotes I love, words I want to look up and terms I've never heard before. It's part curiosity and part my need to have some tangible evidence of what I've taken from this time away from the internet, my own writing, my housework.

Of course every woman who writes a book, is a woman, writing, which automatically makes me interested. Laura's senior english teacher described her writing as Dr. Guthrie style. So I was off to the internet. I found nothing, so I read on. As it turned out, Dr. Guthrie was a local minister, whose sermons were apparently well thought out and delivered, as were Laura's papers. She used the word 'canon,' but not to describe a camera.

In the context of a work of fiction, the term canon denotes the material accepted as "official" in a fictional universe's fan base. Laura's use was, "My mother loved to read. Her canon ranged from the traditional to the eclectic, writers like John Marquand and Somerset Maugham." I love my new word. :)

In 1963, Laura was involved in a car accident that took the life of a close friend of hers, ten days before his eighteenth birthday. She was a senior in high school and it forever changed her. In the book, she talks about how she wished she had handled it differently, what she would change, other than the accident itself. She didn't let it break her. It's in that moment that you press on, read more, long to figure her out, to tap into her strength, her secret.

Laura talks about the assassination of JFK, a piece of history I have always been fascinated with. Much like Princess Di, Oklahoma City and 911; I am always profoundly touched by instances of such sad loss, such a snuffing of potential and goodness.

Laura's voice never seems to change. Through college and marriage, motherhood to the White House and home again. She always sounds like the first lady and the lady next door.

For any woman, Spoken From the Heart is an easy, enjoyable read. Maybe for the men too, but I don't claim to know anything about them. ;)


  1. I'm not a memoir reader but this review makes me think I'd like this book, if I see it I'll pick it up.

  2. Available on Kindle as well. :) Isn't there a way I can share it with you, via Kindle?

    ~bummer.... my 'fixed' commenting is broken again. :/

    this is Cherilyn

  3. My Granny got this one for Christmas last year. I got W's. We promised we'd trade, and never have, but I have every intention of reading this book. This review makes me look forward to it more. Well done!