I am writing this review exactly one week after Election Day 2020, and while I enjoyed this middle grade contemporary novel, it almost felt like a fantasy sometimes. A transition of power so peaceful the incoming and out-coming administrations live together? A dream!
Shaking Up the House by Yamile Saied Mendez is on sale everywhere January 5, 2021.
The Lopez sisters–Winnie and Ingrid–have lived in the White House for 3/4 of their lives–since they were wee tots–and as they prepare to leave it as their father’s administration comes to an end, they have some mixed feelings. The loss of their home is hard, obviously, but they’re also excited for changes and more freedoms. The incoming first daughters–twins Zora and Skylar Williams–have similarly mixed feelings, if not in the opposite directions. When the Blair House renovation doesn’t go as planned, President Lopez offers to let the Williams family live in the guest quarters of the White House in the lame duck period, giving the girls a chance to bond and teach each other about their roles. But what really happens is….a bit different.
A prank war ensues between the two sets of sisters, a ferret is lost, the White House Christmas season turns people green with…something, and as they count down towards inauguration day, the sisters will have to figure out where to draw the line and what they’re really looking for in these moments of funniness and joy, and what their role will be from the outside looking in.
It was realy fun to read a young kids book set in the White House–especially around Christmas season! It’s fun to see the way the author changes history and leans into it, the way she makes the presidency her own in a lot of ways. I loved reading about really diverse families in the White House–especially the Lopezes who love their culture and family and don’t shy away from being Hispanic, even when the public isn’t so nice about it. I’ve always been really interested in first kids and the way they are and are not treated by the public, and I think this was a fun read that also just made me laugh and tear up a bit and think about what it was like to be young and in a weird position–though never as outgoing or incoming first daughters, I will admit.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and am hopefully going to find a way to feature it this winter at our local public library!