Thursday, May 31, 2007

Right-eous Literary Outrage? Doubt it.

From today's WaPo, regarding Jenna Bush's new book. One wonders whether Daddy's Christian supporters would support their teens having access to such subject matter? Library bans orchestrated by Karl Rove, anyone? Not likely, of course. Only for books like Catcher in the Rye...

Jenna Bush, author. The first twin completes her transformation from party girl to global activist this weekend when she starts the promotional rounds for her book, "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope."

Bush, 25, will appear Saturday at N.Y.C.'s BookExpo America, meeting with booksellers to spike sales and generate buzz. "Ana's Story" will be issued Oct. 2 with a huge first printing of 500,000 copies, and publisher HarperCollins will be handing out hundreds of copies of the book at the expo.

So, how'd she do? A peek at the 296-page advance manuscript shows a strong narrative as Bush traces the life of a 17-year-old Panamanian girl living with HIV-AIDS. The two met while Bush worked for UNICEF in Latin America. They became friends, and then the president's daughter spent six months interviewing Ana, her family and others. Her story unfolds like a novel: Ana's parents die after battling AIDS, she is molested by an acquaintance, falls in love with a boy also infected with HIV, and gives birth to a daughter at age 16.

How does Bush address such politically charged issues? In the back of the book, she urges readers to volunteer, educate themselves about sexually transmitted diseases (ideally abstinence, at the very least condoms) and recognize the signs of abuse. Bush will spend the summer putting the finishing touches on the book and prepare for her public debut this fall, said Sandee Roston, head of publicity for HarperCollins Children's Books. A "very extensive" 15-city tour aimed at teens is planned for October and November, when Bush and the book's photographer, college pal Mia Baxter, will appear at schools and public events hosted by local bookstores. And if you're wondering: The acknowledgments include nods to her "amazing" parents and "my patient Henry" -- longtime beau Henry Hager.

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