First Daughter Jenna Bush Goes 'On the Record'
Monday, October 15 2007 @ 01:09 AM UTC
Contributed by: Don Winner
And as I met the kids — and my job for UNICEF was to document this for fund-raising purposes here in the United States so that we could put a face to the statistics. And as I met Ana and these other kids who inspired me so much, I felt like I wanted it to come full circle in some way. And I hoped it would be a book to bring back to the kids here in the United States.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is a stunning book in that it is such an incredible contrast to most people lives here in the United States. And poor Ana had zero to start. And not only zero, but she's sick.
Where did you first meet her?
JENNA BUSH: I met her at a conference at a community group of women and children living with HIV, and it was facilitated by UNICEF. And one thing that I have to say is that if Ana heard herself be called sick — because I did when I made the categories, and I would — infirm(ph), and she would say "No. It is not a sickness. It's my situation and my life."
And whenever she said that I would tear up, because I thought — that's one of the things I learned about her, from her, is that a lot of people living with HIV don't necessarily find it — they don't feel sick. She doesn't feel sick. She has her medicine. She has access to medicine, so she never feels sick. So she doesn't like to think of herself that way.
VAN SUSTEREN: But her mother died when she was very young. She was abused by a man living with her grandmother. She is hiding her condition, however you want to call it. It's almost like she didn't have a break.
JENNA BUSH: Yes. I guess not. The good thing is education has helped her break this cycle, because through education, through the fact that she's back in school and through these programs she was active in, some programs that helped teach her about the illness she's living with.
Now she knew, when she was pregnant, that she should take anti-retrovirals to keep her baby safe, and her baby is most likely HIV negative. And so there is this hope.
And she is living with — it radiates from her, this hope. You can see it in her eyes, and when she talks you can see that she wants a better future and this positive outlook.
VAN SUSTEREN: So are you inspired by her?
JENNA BUSH: Incredibly inspired by her.
VAN SUSTEREN: Parents read the book yet?
JENNA BUSH: Of course.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did either one of them help you with it?
JENNA BUSH: Yes. When it was in its first manuscript form, even the book proposal she helped edit, because she's a very strict editor, as I found out. She did in college, she edited all my writing then, too.
But she edited it when it was just in manuscript form in a binder. And then my dad waited until the galley came out and he read it this summer.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you surprised?
JENNA BUSH: My mom says that — she said at the book party she wasn't surprised at all. She said we're you surprised that Jenna was going to write a book, and she said, no, we always knew she was going to.
It surprised me, I guess, a little. But I think they knew if I was impassioned by something like this that I would probably work like a maniac.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any contact with Ana now?
JENNA BUSH: Of course, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: When is the last time you spoke to her, wrote her, or emailed her?
JENNA BUSH: We set up an email for her, and she's really had a hard time using it. I call her probably once a month, and I called her the day before the book came out.
And I actually sent her a copy in Spanish — it was published in Spanish, too. So before she had only seen the pictures that we had gone through on the computer, and I just made sure she was happy. I would speak in Spanish to her and make sure she was happy with what was on each page.
But now she read it, and I was very nervous.
VAN SUSTEREN: Nervous? Why?
JENNA BUSH: Well, because more than anyone, I wanted her to be happy with her story. And I wanted her to feel like it has done what she wanted it to do. And she did. So I was relieved and thrilled.
VAN SUSTEREN: I have to ask you, you've got big plans, personal plans. You're getting married.
JENNA BUSH: Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Excited?
JENNA BUSH: I'm very excited.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did your fiance ask for your hand?
JENNA BUSH: Of course. My dad would not have allowed the marriage if not. He's a traditionalist.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you know he was going to ask your father?
JENNA BUSH: No. He called my sister first, and we were all together, and he said I'm going to ask your dad, and so if you can help me, because my dad can be brisk sometimes, and not really listen to him.
And so he said if you can help me find a time to talk with him, I'd really appreciate it. So he called my dad and he said I'm going to come down. And I think my dad knew right away.
VAN SUSTEREN: He knew what was up?
JENNA BUSH: Uh-huh.
VAN SUSTEREN: Was it comfortable? Some fathers of potential brides make it a little bit uncomfortable.
JENNA BUSH: Well, they won't really tell me what went on. I can imagine that my father probably made it uncomfortable just for his own humor.
But he called my mom in, which I thought was really sweet, and as a woman I thought was really great, so that she could sit there and listen and Henry could ask my mom for her hand — that would be strange.
VAN SUSTEREN: For her permission.
JENNA BUSH: That would be kind of strange. For her permission.
VAN SUSTEREN: It would be very strange. It wouldn't be dull, though. We'd have a lot of time with it on TV. We'd have fun with it.
JENNA BUSH: It would be, yes, that would be great for court TV, or something.
But so I thought that was great and really sensible of my father to make sure that my mom approved, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: And did your father hesitate at all?
JENNA BUSH: No. He likes him a lot.
I don't know, because they won't tell me really the details. I think what my dad is caught him off guard. Henry had a whole speech prepared, and my dad, right when he walked in he said, yes, it's fine.
And then Henry thought I have this whole speech prepared and I can't even say it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you know it was coming?
JENNA BUSH: Yes. I knew it had to have been coming. We've been dating for three years. I knew it was coming sometime soon.
VAN SUSTEREN: Any hesitation when he asked you?
JENNA BUSH: No, of course not. I was very quiet because it was 5:30 in the morning, and I felt very guilty because I was cranky when he wanted to go hiking at 4:00 in the morning. I just thought he was crazy.
And it was dark outside, and I was cold, and I didn't want to stop hiking for him to ask. I felt kind of guilty at first for being so difficult. But then, of course, I was really excited.
VAN SUSTEREN: And have you set a date, or no plans? Or if you have, it's not for our information?
JENNA BUSH: Right now I'm traveling with "Ana's story" until January, and we both want to make sure — he's in his final year of business school, and he's having a great time, and he wants to make sure that he really takes advantage of this time in his life and I take advantage of this, and we just enjoy it and see what happens.
VAN SUSTEREN: Any chance Ana will be invited?
JENNA BUSH: That's a good question. I hope she could come. In fact, that's a good idea.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, it's a great book — "Ana's story." And congratulation on your personal news —
JENNA BUSH: Thank you so much.
VAN SUSTEREN: — and good luck, and I look forward to your next book as well.