Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush talk growing up in the White House, motherhood and the power of sisterhood
Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush are so close that they can finish each other's sentences and even have their own special language. The pair are no strangers to writing about sisterhood, and their latest book, The Superpower Sisterhood, is a love letter to all sisters in every walk of life – from siblings to best friends.
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Inspired by their mom, Laura Bush, who grew up as an only child but with many close friends, the book has many special links to Jenna and Barbara's own family, and their own unique experience being twins.
The sisters sat down with HELLO! following their busy weekend travelling on their book tour – the "sister road trip" – to chat about how they wrote their book in lockdown, recently hosting Today together, growing up in the White House and who they think will be following in their family's political footsteps in the future.
You've just come back from your book tour promoting The Superpower Sisterhood, how was it?
Jenna: We took Mila, my nine-year-old, on the book tour and it was quite hilarious because she really encompasses all the things we want these girls to be – bravery is chief among them. She was like 'When do I get to go up on stage?' and Barbara and I were like 'We didn't realise we had three authors on this tour!'
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But she did come up onto the stage and read part of the book. She did a little scene and I think she thinks it's so fun. It's what we want for our girls to be confident in themselves and I think part of that is being surrounded by sisters who make you feel brave and encourage talents instead of putting you down.
The Superpower Sisterhood, $9.49/ £12.99, Amazon
How did The Superpower Sisterhood story come about?
Barbara: Jen and I are so lucky that we have a twin because we've had a partner in every step of our life and there were no scary days when we were little because we always had someone. We realised early on that the opposite of twins is an only child which our mom was. Even though she was an only child, she has had some of the same best friends as she's had as a little girl growing up in West Texas, who to this day are her chosen sisters.
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We can choose our sisters too and we wanted to demonstrate that in our book. Our main character, which may be unusual in a book about sisterhood, is an only child, but then one day two sets of sisters move onto her block and she becomes an honorary sister and they work together to make their street better.
How did you go about writing this book together?
Barbara: This book we actually wrote at the very beginning of the pandemic when we were just in lockdown and it was very serious and everyone was taking it very seriously so we couldn't be together writing it. We would be on the phone and emailing each other back and forth. It was very much a collaborative process and it was very fun to work on something together with your sister in the early days of the pandemic when everything seemed so unknown.
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Jenna: I think the pandemic definitely affected the content of the book too without us knowing it was going to. Because these sisters all used their individual powers to make their neighbourhood better. Obviously we all remember those months right after March 2020 when everybody was trying to help their neighbours. We want that feel every month of the year. We didn't really know it was going to affect the narrative but it did.
VIDEO: Jenna Bush Hager unboxes copies of The Superpower Sisterhood
As twins do you have your own super powers?
Barbara: We definitely finish each other's sentences and we have a special language we speak in. We so far have not been particularly successful in reading each other's minds but we had one experience which involved a turkey sandwich once…
Jenna: We both said at the exact same time 'We want pepper on the turkey sandwich' – we both said it and I feel she read my mind and I read her's. I mean of course it was around food!
You recently both worked together hosting Today. How was that?
Barbara: It was something I never thought I would do but it was so fun being with Jenna co-hosting Today. We had so many fun sisterhood themed guests which was really fun. I had an absolute blast.
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Jenna: I've asked her before and she just didn't respond, and so I was like 'I take this as a no', but she liked it more than she thought she was going to. Barbara: Yes, it was fun, very fun.
Jenna and Barbara with their latest book
Your family are so close, how are your parents, George W. Bush and Laura Bush as grandparents?
Barbara: They are very smitten. They have been really cute. My daughter, her name is Cora Georgia, Georgia after my dad and my grandfather and my dad wept when he found out and now he calls her C George. They have been very cute as grandparents.
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Jenna: Mila got to go and spend time with her grandmother this weekend. And she sent her the sweetest text message. She was like 'Dear Grammy, I had no idea we had so much in common.' Having that one-on-one time, she hasn't really had that much time recently with her grandmother so she was totally delighted. Mila said that at the exact same time they said 'No more food,' it was so cute to see that uninterrupted time.
The sisters are incredibly close
Do you think any of your children would go into politics?
Jenna: We asked Mila, she was on stage yesterday during the book tour. I had this sudden feeling, I was like 'Wow I didn't have that confidence when I was in third grade. Barbara, didn't you feel that way?
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Barbara: She just walked on stage, took her spot, grabbed the microphone! Jenna: I was like, 'Wow this is a real confidence' and I asked her, 'Would you ever go into politic?' and she said 'No, but Poppy would.' So who knows! We will see.
Barbara: (Laughing) I can't tell if Cora is interested in politics yet, let's see. So far she's interested in eating, sleeping and children's books. And cuddling.
What are your favorite White House memories?
Barbara: We have so many memories of the White House. We were so lucky. I think my favourite memories are when we were little and my grandfather was President. Every Christmas we and all of our cousins and aunts and uncles would go and stay at the White House and have a huge family slumber party. The White House could not be more magical at Christmas.
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Jenna: One thing that's really beautiful about the White House, many of the people who work there are life-long employees. So when Barbara and I first walked into the White House when we were seven-years-old, we met an incredible woman named Nancy who took us down to the flower shop, where all the flower arrangements are made.
At that age we wanted to be crafters and she took us down and we made bouquets for our grandparents' bedside. And years later, Nancy did the flowers for my wedding. So I think that really speaks to this incredible relationship that we made with the people who worked there.
And lastly, can we expect another book out in the near future?
Barbara: We would love to! I hope so. Our book came from our sisters first book tour for Sisters First, where we noticed so many people coming along with their sister in many forms, from a best friend to a cousin.
Jenna: We are hoping to be struck by inspiration and work on another book because it's been so much for doing it together for the third time.
Catch Jenna on Today with Hoda & Jenna weekdays on NBC, and check out her fab book club, Read with Jenna.
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