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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dixie Swanson's Political Fable Begins

The Accidental Senator by Dixie Swanson

This book is the beginning of a series of books, collectively called A Political Fable. The author, Dixie Swanson, writes regularly in her blog, using an a-partisan style. Siding neither with the ruling party nor with the underdog, Dixie sides with "we, the people." As a former history teacher I strove daily to bring my lesson  back to a reference point, back to the present, and to we, the people who are living in this twenty-first century. And so, when I first began reading Dixie's blog, I felt an immediate kinship with her. When I learned that she was a pediatrician who retired from her practice due to an incurable neurological condition, that bond between us was sealed.  I responded often to her writing via comments on her blog's posts, and when she offered a contest with a prize of one of her books, I entered and was soon the delighted recipient of not one but three of her titles. Here, then, is the first book's review:
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Abby was not a politician. She was not her sister. The two girls were orphaned at a young age, and were taken into the custody of their family housekeeper, a strong woman who had been with the family for years, and with whom the girls had a loving, safe relationship. Priscilla Adams Logan, the older of the two girls, became a politician following her failed marriage and a financially-advantageous settlement; Abigail Adams, the younger sister, became an emergency-room pediatrician. Pris lived in both Texas and Washington, DC; Abby practiced medicine in a local hospital in Texas - until her sister was weakened first by cancer and then by the treatments for her condition. Abby left her role as physician to move to DC for Pris's last year of life.The evenings of care and the emotions of loss are exquisitely described by Swanson in this brief portion of her fable.

Reege, or Regina to those who didn't know her well, had brought both girls up with a guiding hand and encouraging beliefs. Regina also had a nephew, and when his mother died giving birth to him, she brought him to live with her and the sisters. Two white girls, their black guardian Regina and her black nephew, Duke, were to become known as The Patchwork Family. When Pris passed away in the middle of her senatorial term, her request was that her sister Abby take her seat in Congress as the Senior Senator from Texas. Abby, wanting to fulfill her sister's wish, agreed and accepted the help and guidance of Poppy, her sister's chief of staff, and Mikey, a retired political advisor who was a virtual walking encyclopedia of politics and protocol.

This first volume of the political fable featuring our heroine, Abby, poses many challenges and championships that she must sort her way through. She finds herself sitting at the same desk that a Texan's hero, Sam Houston, occupied when he held a seat in Congress. Filling her sister's seat involved chairing some powerful committees and required some diligent study of issues and people. At times she cries herself to sleep, overwhelmed with what she has agreed to do; at other times, she pinches herself to ascertain that she is in fact a Senator among Senators, one of many "...standing on the shoulders of giants."

Dixie Swanson has provided her readers with a strong, smart, confident and appreciative young woman named after one of the strongest Founding Mothers of our country. She deftly shades in the humanity of Congress, the heroes and villains, the problems requiring compromise and the issues deserving a voice and an advocate. As expected, the fable's heroine will fullfill the role of advocate for the Children's Health Bill her sister had written, and the Governor of Texas will honor Pris's request of him to sign that bill and support funding for it.

There is only so much a heroine can do in a partial term; a Senator will be elected in the fall, and Abby can then return to her medical position at the hospital in Texas. But having inherited the bulk of  her sister's estate she is now independently wealthy, and so can choose whether to do that, or work instead to promote those solutions for children's health worldwide.

There is more to tell in this first volume, and I encourage you to read it before moving on to the next volume, The Accidental President. No spoiler alerts here ... but another review to come, soon.
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