The President's Daughter

The President's Daughter

4.5 9
by Ellen Emerson White

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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.


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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Rarely have I read such a nuanced, realistic, understanding and forgiving mother/daughter relationship.” —A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

“Her characters are sometimes sarcastic; they are also honest and vulnerable. Over and over, I believe her characters to be real; fully formed; I would recognize them on the street. They are flawed, they are funny, they are a mix of good and bad. They are complex.” —A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy on Ellen Emerson White

Publishers Weekly

Katharine Vaughn Powers, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts with a sterling New England pedigree, is so morally strong that during her (successful) presidential campaign, her 15-year-old daughter, Meg, quietly wonders if she isn't too good to be true. "Your mother is absolutely, totally, almost sickeningly honest," her father reassures her. She's also beautiful, chic, witty, brilliant and, on top of it, a believable character. White pulls off this not inconsiderable feat by viewing her through Meg's critical eyes, letting Meg weigh her mother's ambition against her unspoken wishes for a more attentive mother. The author leaves it to readers to observe how closely Meg resembles the woman she ironically thinks of as the Leader of the Free World; Meg herself is too busy making cynical jokes at her own expense, learning White House protocol and keeping her equally intelligent younger brothers in line. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

Feiwel & Friends
Publication date:
President's Daughter Series, #1
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.48(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.77(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

President's Daughter, The


MEG WAS TEN minutes early. It was her mother's opinion that three minutes were more than sufficient, but Meg liked to play it safe. Less pressure that way.

She slouched into the country club, wearing old blue sweatpants, a baggy V-neck tennis sweater, and a faded green Lacoste shirt. The receptionist at the front desk nodded, and Meg nodded back. It was Friday afternoon, so the place was pretty quiet, although commuters would probably start showing up any minute now for after-work drinks. Which meant that her mother would have to shake hands all over the place. Pretty embarrassing.

She sat down in an uncomfortable upholstered chair, checking to make sure that no one was watching before swinging her legs up onto the coffee table. There were a bunch of tennis and golf magazines stacked there, along with the latest copies of Travel & Leisure, Architectural Digest, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. She had a tremendous urge to go up to the desk and ask if they could get her a couple of tabloids, but repressed it. Sometimes people didn't have a sense of humor about things like that.

She glanced over at the clock. Seven minutes of five. That meant she had four minutes to go—unless her mother's plane was late, or she was tied up in Boston traffic. Some Fridays, that happened.

To occupy herself, Meg unwrapped the blue bandanna from her racquet handle, not sure whether to tie it around her head as a sweatband or just hide it inside her tennis bag. She could never decide if bandannas were cool or trendy—it was impossible to be both.

The front door of the club opened, and she heard a familiar voice: Glen, her mother's top aide.

"—at eight-thirty," he was saying. "And then, at nine—"

Her mother nodded, looking both dignified—and tired—in a grey silk dress and her London Fog raincoat. She saw Meg, and her face changed, the fatigue and political smile replaced by a grin. She crossed the hall with swift grace, and Meg stood up to receive an enthusiastic hug, smelling bold but understated perfume.

"I hope I'm not late," her mother said, glancing at her watch.

"No," Meg said. "I was just kind of early."

"Well, I'm sorry you had to wait." Her mother held her away. "Smile."

Meg smiled obediently.

"Oh, you look beautiful," her mother said. "Much older." She turned to Glen, and her press secretary, Linda. "Doesn't Meg look beautiful without her braces?"

Linda and Glen nodded. They weren't what you'd call effusive types. More like what you'd call grumps.

"Well." Her mother checked her watch again. "We'd better get moving." She looked at Glen and Linda. "I'll anticipate seeing you shortly before eight."

Glen scanned whatever message had just come in—he always carried the newest and most flashy handheld gadgets; cost be damned—and then shook his head. "I think seven would be more—"

"I haven't seen my family since Monday," her mother said, somewhat sharply. "Eight will be quite sufficient."

He sighed, but nodded.

"Thank you," her mother said. "I'll see you in a few hours." She took the tennis bag yet another one of her aides had just brought inside. "Thanks, Frank." Then, she put her free arm around Meg. "Come on, let's not waste any court time."

"See you later," Meg said to Glen and Linda and Frank, then followed her mother down to the womens' locker room. Watching her, Meg decided that her mother was the kind of person who made her wish that she had on pumps. Not that Meg could walk in pumps.Not that she really wanted to walk in pumps. Put-together, that's how her mother looked. As if she'd never had a grey hair. Except, forty-four was kind of old for that.

"Mom?" she asked.

Her mother unzipped her tennis bag. "What?"

It was maybe tactless, but—"Do you color your hair?" she asked.

Her mother instantly shook her head. "No."

Hmmm. Meg considered that. "Never?"

"Occasionally." Her mother turned to looked at her. "Why?"

"Just curious," Meg said.

Her mother lifted an eyebrow, but didn't pursue that.

Meg sat in the lounge part of the locker room, slouched low enough to avoid the many mirrors. She wasn't heavily into mirrors.

In short order, her mother came out in a designer pleated skirt/striped shirt ensemble, walking over to the largest mirror to put up her hair, doing so with three deft bobby-pin jabs. She frowned at the mirror, retouched her makeup, then shook her head to loosen some of the hair in the bun. The Senator prepares to enter the public eye. She saw Meg watching, and smiled.

"I only color it when it starts greying strangely," she said.

Meg put on her best solemn expression. "I guess only your hairdresser knows for sure."

"What, are you kidding? I do it late at night," her mother said.

"Do you turn the lights out first?" Meg asked.

Her mother laughed. "Always." Leaving the locker room, she glanced down at Meg's outfit. "What happened to all of those nice clothes you got for your birthday?"

"I don't know," Meg said, a little self-conscious about the contrast between them. The Senator and the slovenly daughter. "I feel like I'm not supposed to perspire in them."

Her mother nodded. "No point in ruining good clothes by wearing them."

Meg looked at her uncertainly, not sure if that was a joke.

"How's your ankle?" her mother asked.

Christ, not that again. "That was months ago, Mom," Meg said. "I'm fine." She had rolled it pretty badly during the quarter-finals of the North Sectionals, and even though she was still able to win the match, she had been diagnosed with such a severe sprain that her parents made her withdraw from the tournament, and she'd had to gimp around on stupid crutches for a few weeks.

Her mother nodded, a little bit defensively. "Okay. I was just asking."

They continued towards the courts in silence.

"I was going to win," Meg said, "and go on to the MIAA." Which was the tournament to determine the high school state champions.

Her mother nodded—except that it wasn't very convincing.

"I was," Meg said, although, privately, she wasn't too damn sure of that.

Her mother nodded again.

"You don't think I was going to win?" Meg asked.

Her mother sighed. "Meg, I know you wish we had let you play, but you were injured, and you weren't going to get past that kid—what's-her-name?—from Concord-Carlisle, anyway."

Well, okay, probably not. Especially since she—her name was Janice Yates—was three years older, ranked 7th in the New England USTA 18-and-under division, and had ultimately ended up winning the individual state title.

But, still.

"Next season, though," her mother said, as they took their court. "Next season, I'm picking you."

She was probably just saying that to be nice, but it was nice, and Meg nodded, slightly mollified.

"Rally for a while?" her mother asked, already on the other side of the net.

"Um, yeah, sure," Meg said, starting to take her Babolat racquet out of her bag—she had only brought two along—but then, changingher mind and pulling out the Volkl, instead. Her mother was like, a phenomenal tennis player, and Meg generally felt lucky to get more than a few games off her, although she would play as hard as she could. Over the last year or so, more and more games had gone to deuce, and sometimes Meg even won a set.

Not often enough, but sometimes.

They kept the court for almost an hour, her mother winning 6-4, 7-6. When she lost the last point, Meg wanted to swear very loudly, but she let out a hard breath, instead, looking down at her racquet and wondering whether she should have gone with the Babolat. Or maybe, she should have brought her Yonex. Yeah, she might have won with the Yonex.

Meeting her up at the net, Meg noticed that her mother was flushed and trying to hide the fact that she was out of breath.

"Are you okay?" Meg asked, just to be sure.

"Fine." Her mother blotted her face with a towel. "You've been playing a lot lately?"

Meg shrugged. "Pretty much."

Her mother nodded. "It shows."

"Hello, Senator," one of the women taking over the court said. "How's Washington?"

"Not bad," her mother said. "How's psychology?"

"Not bad," the woman said.

"Have a good match." Her mother draped a light sweater around her shoulders, then picked up her tennis bag.

"How do you remember all that stuff?" Meg held the door as they left the court area. "I mean, all the people you meet."

"Practice, I guess," her mother said. "I've never been one for mnemonics."

Meg nodded intelligently, rather than asking, "What are mnemonics?"

"I mean," her mother's voice was very casual, "I personally find that memory devices complicate things even more."

Meg blushed. She would have to work on her intelligent nod.

"Hey." Her mother paused near the club's bar. "Feel like going into the Grille to get something to drink?"

Meg shrugged and followed her, trying to get her sweater to drape just as sportily around her shoulders. Or at least half as sportily.

The bar was crowded, and it took a few minutes for her mother to finish shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with various people. Then, they sat at a table in the corner, a waiter instantly hurrying over.

"What can I get you, Senator?" he asked.

"Orange juice, thank you." She grinned. "It's not just for breakfast anymore."

"I know the chef would love to send out a tasting menu for you," the waiter said, "if—"

Her mother shook her head. "Thank you, that's very thoughtful, but we'll be having supper at home very soon."

With—judging from the time—Glen and Linda, and probably Frank.

"I believe," Meg said, "that I'll have a martini."

"That's what you think," her mother said. "How's orange juice sound?"

"Not as good as Coke," Meg said.

Her mother nodded at the waiter, who nodded back and scurried off to get their drinks. When he returned, her mother took a sip of juice, glanced around at the other people in the bar, and leaned forward.

"How can you play tennis, or golf, and be terribly healthy, and then come in here and drink?" she asked.

Good question. Meg gulped some Coke. "Are you sure I can't have a martini?"

"What do you know about martinis?" her mother asked.

Another good question. "Lots," Meg said.

"Right." Her mother finished half the juice, still flushed from playing. She lowered her glass, looking at Meg thoughtfully. "Since it's just the two of us, I thought we could have a—"

"Senator Powers." One of the men who had been standing at the bar was suddenly at their table. "I wanted to congratulate you on the work you did on the chemical dumping bill."

"Oh, well, thank you," her mother said. "How've things been going for you?"

He shrugged. "Not bad, not bad."

"Oh, I'm sorry." Her mother turned. "This is my daughter, Meghan. Meg, this is Mr. Garvey."

"How do you do," Meg said.

"Hi," Mr. Garvey said briefly. "Senator, what I wanted to ask you was, the wife and kids and I are going down to D.C. for a week. What's the chances of us being able to get some gallery passes?"

Her mother nodded. "Call the Boston office, and talk to Harriet. She'll arrange everything for you."

"Okay, thank you. Thank you very much," he said, and went back to the bar.

"Another day, another vote," Meg said.

Her mother grimaced.

"You know, there's a pothole on Hammond Street that's really bugging me," Meg said.

Her mother grinned wryly. "Call the Boston office. Be sure to use my name."

Right. "How come you have to go out and give speeches tonight?" Meg asked. "I thought you were going to be home."

"Well." Her mother looked uncomfortable. "It's only two. I should be back by ten-thirty, at the latest."

Meg nodded. It wasn't as though this was the first time.

"Anyway," her mother said. "I thought since it's just—" She glanced around to make sure. "Since it is just the two of us, I thought we could have a talk."

Meg stiffened. "Am I in trouble?"

Her mother shook her head. "No, of course not."

That still didn't sound good. "I wasn't limping before," Meg said. "I just tripped." Which was actually true.

"I know. I just want to talk to you," her mother said.

Meg relaxed. "If it's about sex, I already know," she said, sitting back in her chair.

"Since we went over it about six years ago, I should hope it's sunk in by now. At any rate," her mother went on, "your father and I have been discussing this at length, and—"

"What," Meg said, "sex?"

Her mother looked impatient. "Meg, come on, I'm being serious."

Recognizing the irritation in her mother's voice, Meg was quiet.

Her mother took a deep breath. "I guess I wanted to talk to you before your brothers, because—well, it's about the next election."

Whoa. Meg sat up straighter. "You mean, you're not running?"

"I'm not running for Senate," her mother conceded.

How completely excellent. "You mean, you'll like, live at home all the time?" Meg could almost feel her eyes lighting up, or whatever it was that eyes did.

"Meg, I want to run for President," her mother said.

Meg choked, losing half her mouthful of soda on the table. She shoved her napkin onto the liquid, still coughing. "Are you kidding?"

Her mother shook her head.

"Oh my God," Meg said.

"A lot of party people have been approaching me. And, quite frankly, a lot of the big donors," her mother said. "They think the country's ready for—well, what do you think?"

At the moment, she kind of thought it would be nice if Mr. Garvey came back over and ignored her some more. "Isn't it kind of early?" Meg asked, because she couldn't come up with anything else to say. "In the, you know, election cycle?"

"It's kind of late, Meg," her mother said. "Almost everyone else already has organizations on the ground, and the greybeards are signing on, and—well, I don't have much time left to decide."

Her mother had always been pretty well known—she had already been in Congress when Meg was born—but after she had given an incredibly well-received keynote address at the last Democratic Convention, she had turned into the kind of high-profile politician who regularly appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows, and who made national news on a not irregular basis.

"Is this because of the speech?" Meg asked.

"Well, I like to think there's more to it than that," her mother said.

Yeah, but, President? Meg frowned. "Will you be in the primaries and everything?"

Her mother nodded. "At least the early ones. And—well, I would be planning for considerably more than that."

This whole conversation felt like a really bad dream. Or, anyway, a really weird dream. "Will you be able to be home at all?" Meg asked.

"Not much," her mother admitted.

Great. "What's Dad think?" she asked.

"I want your opinion," her mother said. "Not his."

Meg studied her, healthy and alert, the thin neck and face quite tanned against the white sweater. "You look like a President."

Her mother's eyebrows went up. "Now?"

"Yeah," Meg said. "You dress right. And you're tall enough."

"Well, thank you." Her mother laughed. "Think we can work 'five eight' into a slogan somewhere?"

Meg twirled her straw, thinking about all of this. "You're not—I mean—what happens if you win?"

"I guess that would mean I'd be President," her mother said.

Perish the thought. "My God." Meg shuddered, dropping the straw. "You think you'll win?"

"I'll be happy if I make a good showing in New Hampshire," her mother said, "forget anything else."

"My God." Meg shuddered again.

Her mother looked at her uneasily. "Well, what do you think?"

"Can I have a martini?" Meg asked.


GETTING HOME HALF an hour later, they found Meg's little brothers Steven and Neal on one side of the kitchen table, making a salad—while Meg's father sat on the other side, drinking a Sam Adams and frowning at the newspaper.

Steven was eleven, thin and pugnacious, with their mother's dark hair and blue eyes—which, all things being equal, was pretty much the way Meg looked herself. Neal, who was six and still hanging on to somewhat blondish hair, took more after their father.

"Hey!" Neal scrambled up. "It's Mom!"

"Hi." She caught him in a hug, dropping her tennis bag.

Steven shoved the carrots away and moved in for his turn. Their mother hugged him, and then Meg's father, which was a different kind of hug. Longer. They looked at each other, and Meg's father brought his hand up to her mother's cheek.

"You look tired," he said.

"Well"—she kissed him lightly—"I've been playing tennis."

"Mom, Mom, look!" Neal rushed out of the room, then back in with a handful of school papers. "I got a hundred in spelling and everything!"

"Well, let's see." She sat down, and Neal climbed up on her lap, grass-stained and disheveled from soccer practice. "Wow, a ninety-five in math. Oh, that's great."

"Hi," Meg said to her father.

"How was school?" he asked.

"Okay," she said. "How was work? Get lots of new clients today?"

"Hundreds." He smiled at her. "How was tennis?"

Yes, that was the more important question. "I got her to a tiebreaker," Meg said.

"Good for you," he said, and then winked at her mother. "Need some Advil?"

Her mother, who had actually been limping a little herself when they got out of the car, shook her head—but grinned sheepishly and took a couple when he went over to one of the cupboards and handed the bottle to her.

"Bet Mom'll make you get a haircut tomorrow," Meg said to Steven, just to get him going.

He threw some carrot peelings at her as the phone rang, and they both jumped for it, Steven getting there first.

"Hello? Oh, just a minute, please." He covered the receiver. "Mom, it's what's-his-name from Texas. Mr. Palmer."

Otherwise known as the Senate Minority Leader. Her mother picked up the phone. "Brian, hi," she said, and went off into a conversation about some Select Committee hearing or something.

"Party business," Steven said, trying to make his voice deeper.

"Party?" Meg said. "Who's having a party?"

"Boy, do we have a dumb sister," Steven said to Neal, who laughed.

Half an hour and six phone calls later, they were sitting down to dinner, observing her father's very strict no-electronic-or-telephonic-devices-during-mealtimes rule as they ate the stew that Trudy, their housekeeper, had made and the salad Meg had had to finish making. On weekends, Trudy usually went home to her house over in Brighton.

Their father frowned, which made him look like the stern, businesslike tax attorney version of himself. His smile, on the other hand, usually made him look more like a jolly lumberjack. "Steven, we'd better see about getting that hair cut tomorrow."

Steven groaned, and Meg laughed.

"You'll probably be even better at basketball if it isn't in your eyes all the time," their mother said, reasonably.

"Me, too?" Neal asked.

"You, too." Their mother leaned over to cut his meat.

He watched her, his elbows on the table. "Were you important today?"

She made four quick horizontal slices. "Not really."

"Did you talk in front of everyone?" he asked.

"I guess I always do, don't I?" She handed him his plate, indicating with her eyebrows for him to move his elbows.

"Boy." He reached in front of Steven for the bread basket, saw his father's expression, and sat back. "Would you please pass me the bread, please?" he asked politely.

Steven grabbed two pieces, then shoved the basket along.

"Boy," Neal said, taking two pieces of his own. "I bet all those Senators listen to you."

Their mother smiled. "Some days more so than others."

"Boy," he said. "You should be President."

She glanced at Meg, who had to fight off yet another shudder.

"Meg, be a good munchkin and pass me the salt, will you?" she asked.

THE PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER. Copyright © 2008 by Ellen Emerson White.

Meet the Author

Ellen Emerson White started writing about Meg Powers in The President's Daughter and continued in White House Autumn, Long Live the Queen, and Long May She Reign, available from Feiwel and Friends (Fall 2007). When she is not writing, she's watching the Boston Red Sox. She lives in New York City.

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President's Daughter 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
SeeMichelleRead More than 1 year ago
Ellen Emerson White is a relatively new discovery for me. I begin with her incomparable 'The Road Home' and have quickly done whatever I could to get my hands on her other books, knowing if they were half as good as 'The Road Home,' they would be well worth my time. And I was right. I always like it when that happens. Meg Powers is a regular teenager - she plays tennis, fights with her parents, tries to navigate a hormone-driven high school, and gives her young brothers all the trouble she can. Meg does have a couple of things that set her apart from your average teen however - for one, she's smart with a biting wit and two, her mother, a career politician, has just decided to run for president. Not PTA president, mind you, but Leader of the Free World President president. Going with this not competely unexpected decision, Meg and her family must face the realities of campaigning on such a large scale. They must first endure the endless agony of the primaries nationwide, then the pageantry of the Democratic Convention, and if all goes well, eventually leading up to the Presidential election, that is, if her mom's lucky to even get that far. Even though Meg is extremely smart, sometimes so much so that I forget she's only a teenager, she still experiences the all-too natural desire to not attract attention to herself (an instinct ingrained in all teens of course) which becomes basically impossible with all the media coverage, teachers asking for her mother's stance on education, and never knowing if guys are asking her out for herself or becuase her mother is famous. Through it all, she and especially her brothers keep a constant run of banter and sarcastic remarks running throughout - often tempering the many emotional scenes with levity leaving you with a sense that humor is the only thing keeping the Powers family sane. The Powers family has an awesome dynamic. They are all incredibly smart and each loves nothing better than to crack a joke or pop off some smart aleck response. Meg and her mother are so much alike - but in exceedingly different ways. Meg feels that since her mother might become the first female president and she is the eldest child, there is even more pressure to be as elegant and intelligent as her mom - talk about your pressure. I absolutely adore the covers in this series - each is a perfect representation of the emotions Meg experiences. This particular design is an homage to Andrew Wyeth's celebrated painting Christina's World. This choice was spot-on for capturing Meg's feeling of desperation and isolation. She has no choice but to follow her mother in perusing the presidency - no matter the cost to their family or herself. Not without hope however, Wyeth (and likewise Meg) face their difficulties face-first, without any hesitation and ready to get to work.
Fantasyinmymind More than 1 year ago
I read all four of these books (3 times in the last 4 months) and found them very well written (even if I'm not a teen) and a great pleasure to read. It's not a perfect family and when something bad happens (twice) the only perspective you get is from Meg - a tough (she doesn't think so) savvy young woman thrown into situations we can only think about (First Daughter, First Sister), new home and lifestyle, kidnapping victim, rehab patient. Her relationship with family and friends and others is interesting to watch unfold. How she can talk to some and not others, then has to talk with the others. I encourage anyone to read this series, they will be well worth your time.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Meg Powers is just a normal teenager living in Boston with her father, mother, and two younger brothers, Steven and Neal. All of this is turned upside down when Meg's mom, who is a Senator, runs for President. President of the United States, that is. And the worst part is that Senator Powers actually has a shot at winning.

As if being the daughter of the first female President wasn't enough, Meg has to deal with moving to a new house, going to a new school, finding new friends, and having to figure out how to deal with the whole Secret Service thing. With a few bumps along the road, Meg not only discovers more about herself, but she also learns things about her mom -- the President of the United States -- that not many people know about.

Ellen Emerson White writes an interesting story of a teenage girl living in the politics of D.C. What makes this book so compelling is that while readers may not be able to relate to the whole mother-running-for-President part, they can relate to a teenage girl dealing with a somewhat difficult mother, annoying brothers, and new surroundings.

With THE PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER being the first in the series, the other books are sure to be just as pleasing and entertaining as the first.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book I reccomend it to anyone who is or was shy or not it's just a terrific book!!!!
DanceBree17 More than 1 year ago
The President's Daughter was an excellent book that showed Meghan and her family going through the whole idea of their mother running for President, and winning. But what I really liked was that the character of Meg was really not totally supportive of the idea, and who really just wanted to fit in for once. Shes shown as a very shy girl who is just wanting people to like her for who she is, not who her mother is. The book is also a good look at what goes on inside 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue, with the hundreds of support staff and workers that help make the residence a place for everyone. I liked how the author shows the struggles that all the family make to adjust to living there and how Meg's rebellions could be more trouble than she thought of. Overall its a great book, even with a few dry parts. But the overall peek inside the White House is worth it all. Oh and the cover art done to resemble Andrew Wyeth's painting was a great move.
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