Thursday, October 25, 2007

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover, by Mitali Perkins

Good book! I've been reading some good stuff lately. A lucky run.

Sameera, nicknamed Sparrow, was adopted as a Pakistani infant by an American diplomat and his wife. Fast forward, and he's a Republican candidate for President. Sparrow leaves her European boarding school and her friends to come 'home' to be a part of his campaign. Sparrow is promptly thrust into the political spotlight, with ugly headlines appearing above photos of her and her father like "Is Righton soft on Muslims?"

A campaign aide steps in, offering assistance- an American makeover, starting with her name. Anxious to assist, Sparrow becomes Sammy, a designer-wearing perky girl, with a fake blog written by staffers. In a satisfying twist that leant depth to what could have been a cardboard baddie, the aide who orchestrates the makeover had been a political daughter herself who had been crucified in the press (think Chelsea Clinton).

Sparrow's conflicts are well presented- she wants her father to succeed, and as much as she wants her mother to go back to looking like the fair-trade policy wonk that she is, she understands that appearances count in a modern election, and that Mom will probably stay blond and exfoliated if she becomes First Lady. Sparrow wants to do her part, but to have a life at the same time.

Exerpts from Sparrow's own real blog, and the comments her friends leave are a great counterpoint to the fake Sammy's blog, and when Sparrow begins to wear salwar kameez to preserve her anonymity in DC, the casual racism she encounters is enraging. It was such a well written book, and this character was a delight- thoughtful, interesting, and interested in the world around her.

The only thing that seemed implausable was that her parents were Republicans. I mean, really?

Quality: 10 Popularity: 7 Overall: 17
First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover

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