Book Review: as if being 12-3/4 isn’t bad enough, my mother is running for president! by Donna Gephart

There’s a lot to like in Donna Gephart’s first book, as if being 12-3/4 isn’t bad enough, my mother is running for president. Vanessa Rothrock is nearly 13 and already used to the limelight because she’s the Florida governor’s daughter. But when her mother decides to run for president, and it looks like she stands a good chance of winning, Vanessa’s life intensifies. Gephart gives us a good glimpse into the family life of a presidential candidate—hint: there’s not much family time—while also capturing pre-teen angst quite well.

Vanessa’s concerns will have moms remembering their own middle school years while being reminded of what their daughters of the same age may be going through. Girls will be able to identify with many of the same issues Vanessa experiences, and maybe learn a few things from her mistakes.

I found it a good reminder of how kids can be so ego-centric in middle school. Everything is seen through the lens of “what does it mean to me.” For Vanessa, it doesn’t matter that her mom will make history by becoming the first female president of our country if she’s not home to watch her daughter compete in the regional spelling bee.

It’s also a good reminder that kids often don’t tell their parents about important things that are worrying them. Instead they try to solve them on their own. When Vanessa receives letters threatening to kill her mom if she doesn’t drop out of the race, she thinks it’s better to secretly try to get her mom to drop out instead of telling someone with the ability to help.

This is also a very interesting book to read in an election year when a woman came close to being nominated as a major-political-party presidential candidate. And I loved the reasons Vanessa’s mom wrote to her telling why she wants to be president. The list could spark a whole separate conversation with members of a mother-daughter book club about things that are important for our country.

I recommend this book for readers aged 9 to 12.

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