Charlotte Pence has known the man we know as the Vice President since the moment she was born, and in this memoir about her life with her father from his days in Congress to his life in the administration, she takes care to paint a well-rounded picture of a man who loves his family, loves his God, loves his country, and has clearly raised some outstanding children.
I don’t love political memoirs, but this book is different. It’s not Mike Pence talking about his life. It’s not even his daughter talking about how impressed she is by his political prowess or his viewpoints on certain issues and his big victories. Instead, she focuses on the little moments: shaking hands with Ronald Reagan and seeing the love between her parents endure and telling stories to her sister late at night. This is a book about Mike Pence, it is literally subtitled: Lessons From My Father, but it’s also an inside look at a family there are a lot of misconceptions about and frankly a lack of knowledge of. I myself was one of those people. I had never heard the name Mike Pence before the 2016 election despite living in an Indiana border state and didn’t do much research on him and his family in the years since, but this book assured me that politics aside, the Pences are raising amazing children and seem to have a family dynamic we can all aspire to.
Told largely chronologically but also thematically and in brief chapters focused on a moment in time or a lesson, Charlotte Pence talks about growing up with her father, from traveling with him on Congressional trips and balancing his work life with his home life. The Pences actually moved to DC when Pence was in Congress because the children were young and the family didn’t want to be separated four nights out of the week. Charlotte also talks about how her upbringing influenced her career choices and how her parents always supported her writing, from letting her stay up late to tell her sister stories to reading her all of the Chronicles of Narnia aloud and bringing her on the 2016 campaign trail to help with speechwriting. Parenting shows through when children become adults, and Charlotte Pence is evidence that her parents are good parents. It doesn’t hurt that her brother is a Marine and her sister a lawyer either. Now, Charlotte is off at Harvard Divinity School.
Aside from her the more traditional aspects of her upbringing, Charlotte also talks in depth about how her father, but really her parents in general, taught her to be a good person. They taught her to accept your strengths and know they may be different than another’s, to always look for the good in people and in situations, to trust in God’s plan, to determine who you prioritize and always prioritize them, and to listen as much as you talk in a debate. These aren’t political theories or beliefs, they are human ones we can all learn from.
There were several anecdotes in Where You Go that warmed my heart, but one of the ones I found funniest was when the Pences brought their pets to a fancy DC event. You’ll have to pick up the book to find out more, but I promise your stomach will be hurting afterwards. I also enjoyed reading about Charlotte’s experience on the VP plan that started to smoke, a very harrowing experience, and how she and her family handled it and treated the people who helped them.
The title, Where You Go, comes from the biblical story of Ruth. When Ruth’s husband died, she was told to return home and leave her mother-in-law, Naomi behind. But Ruth refused. She said, “Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die and there I will be buried.” As Charlotte explains early in the book, she decided to take a year off between college and the real world to follow her father and mother on the campaign trail, to keep the family together and support them as they had always supported her. That, I think, is the overarching theme of this book: dedication to family no matter what. No matter how you feel about Mike Pence or the president he serves with, I hope you’ll give this book a chance and let Charlotte Pence explain why she loves her father so much and how he has helped shape the woman she is today without ever telling her what to believe, what career to pursue, or what faith she must adhere to.