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Growing up Biden : a memoir
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Library Journal Review
This family memoir by Joe Biden's youngest sister, who was also his longtime campaign manager, is unusual in combining accounts of family life and of a politician's campaign and governing experiences. Owens lived with Biden and took care of his sons after their mother and baby sister died in a car accident, so she has particular insight into Biden's personal life and his devotion to family. Her book provides details about the tight-knit Biden family's devotion to one another and their Catholic faith's influence on their political philosophies. She sensitively covers the tragedies the Bidens faced and shows that they strengthened the already-tight bonds that helped them recover. Owens stresses that in the early years, it was exceptional for a woman to manage a U.S. Senate campaign, and she describes the sexism she faced throughout the years of being Biden's campaign manager and reflects on what it means to be the first woman in U.S. history to have run a presidential campaign. VERDICT Owens's narrative is informative and engaging and is a perceptive firsthand account of President Biden's background. Readers who are interested in political campaign operations and strategy or want to know more about the Bidens will enjoy this book.--Jill Ortner
Publishers Weekly Review
"I'm not a political scientist, nor am I a policy wonk. However, I am an expert on Joe Biden," writes the president's younger sister in this touching account of life with her oldest sibling. Born in 1945, Biden Owens was close to Biden from a young age. "Our parents," she writes, "drilled it into our heads from birth that we were to take care of one another." This mentality helped them weather incredible losses, including the 1972 deaths of Biden's wife and daughter in a car accident. At the time, Biden Owens--who had just managed Biden's successful underdog U.S. Senate campaign--was an essential presence for her nephews, Beau and Hunter Biden, which enabled her brother to assume his duties and to go on to become Delaware's longest-serving senator. A key advisor to Biden throughout his political career, she details the guidance she offered him--"serv as his sounding board or gut check, and speak as a truth-teller"--while touching on familiar beats in the arc of Biden's career, including his first two presidential campaigns, and tenure as vice president. However, the best moments are Biden Owens's intimate recollections, such as her awkward first meeting with the future Jill Biden over a tuna salad lunch ("I gestured toward it, calling to her as if she were a scared cat"). Politics aside, this shines with heart and humanity. Agent: Matt Latimer, Javelin. (Apr.)
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