When your mom is the president of the United States, you’d think your life would be perfect. But, as eighth grader Audrey Rhodes is discovering, living at “1600” (as she calls her new home) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Having friends over becomes an issue of national security, a Secret Service agent follows her everywhere and class trips are out of the question.

Sulking around the White House one night, Audrey discovers a hidden compartment containing a diary written by a previous First Daughter, Alice Roosevelt. Alice’s desire to “eat up the world” and claim an independent identity for herself—including bringing her pet snake to state functions, dancing on the roof and sneaking a boy past White House guards—inspire Audrey to try similar antics, with results that don’t always end up as planned. Alice is often lucky in matters of the heart, whereas Audrey’s attempts to be more than friends with her attractive classmate Quint aren’t going nearly so well.

Parents who read Ellen Emerson White’s President’s Daughter books in the 1980s will appreciate the updated take on this wish-fulfilling premise. When Audrey Met Alice is a terrific work of blended realistic and historical fiction. An author’s note and bibliography provide the historical context, and an accompanying website includes supplemental resources, most notably a version of Alice’s fictionalized diary entries annotated with quotations from primary sources. The combination of humor, history, light romance and social consciousness make Rebecca Behrens’ debut novel a winner.

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