Selected Features, 

Interviews, and Radio about When the White House Was Ours 

 

Chicago Tribune Book of the Year

 

Reading Group Choices Featured Selection

 

Washington City Paper Critic's Pick

 

Interview on WYPL's Book Talk Live

 

Interview with Art Taylor, Art and Literature

 

Interview with Writers Read

 

Covering the 2008 Presidential Campaign for the New York Times:

-Hoosier Time

-Feeling Blue in Indiana

-Clinton at the Crossroads

 

From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 

 

"Loosely based on Porter Shreve’s own childhood, When the White House Was Ours is the atmospheric and captivating story of a family’s struggle to stay together against great odds. It's 1976, and while the country prepares to celebrate the bicentennial, Daniel Truitt's family is falling apart. His father, Pete, has been fired from yet another teaching job, and his mother, Valerie, is one step away from leaving for good. But when Pete lucks into a crumbling mansion in the nation's capital, he makes a bold plan to start a school under his own roof where students and teachers will be equals.

 

Replete with the wry humor, human insight and cultural resonance that characterizes Shreve’s critically acclaimed fiction, When the White House Was Ours will be a joy to anyone whose family has lived through an idealistic time and ended up in an era of compromise."

 

Praise for When the White House Was Ours:

 

"When the White House Was Ours is as good as it gets. Porter Shreve tells the story of the Truitts, a most unusual displaced family who come to Washington, DC from the Midwest to start an alternative school in a white house. They arrive about the same time Jimmy Carter, the man from Plains, comes to another White House with a credo about trust. The end result is a tale of sheer delight—beautifully told in perfect pitch." —Jim Lehrer, Former Host of the PBS NewsHour and author of Eureka and The Last Debate

 

"In this absorbing and sharply observed novel, Porter Shreve offers rare insight into the anxiety that goes hand in hand with idealism. His thirteen-year-old narrator is a worried yet wonderful guide through this story of an imperfect family and an imperfect nation struggling to become their better selves." —Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Ms. Hempel Chronicles and Madeleine is Sleeping

 

"Porter Shreve does what few writers can -- he casts a spell, bringing you immediately and completely into a world you won't soon want to leave. This is a humane, tender and intimate story about what it means to be a family, to be idealistic in an all too pragmatic world." —Joe McGinnis Jr., author of Carousel Court andThe Delivery Man

 

"Coming-of-age tales that hark back to lovable, quaint times all too often cover the landscape and the characters with a thick dusting of powdered sugar. But Shreve avoids sentimental sludge with the masterly voice of Daniel, the anxious boy historian who tries to keep order in his fractured life by soberly documenting it, zany detail by zany detail. As we recover from our own sugar high of the 2008 election, When the White House Was Ours offers a perfect antidote. Turn off the TV pundits, turn down the thermostat, and slip on a comfy cardigan." —Caroline Preston, Washington Post (full review)

 

"When the White House Was Ours melds the bicentennial backdrop with fun period detail and tender portraits, delivering a loving bildungsroman of the hippie-twilight era. . . Shreve based the story on his own family's similar experimental-school adventure in Philadelphia when he was a kid, and his adolescent narrator's outlook rings wonderfully, often distressingly, true. . . In this fine, unpretentious tale, we watch a historian in the making, discovering that personal and national ideals of responsibility and freedom inform each other in strange and occasionally instructive ways.” —Alexander C. Kafka, Chicago Tribune (full review)

 

"Daniel, the adolescent narrator of Porter Shreve’s third novel, When the White House Was Ours, is growing up in interesting times [and] an interesting family, too... Shreve presents the District as a place that can abide hippiedom, and in Daniel he has the perfect embodiment of the city’s split personality." —Mark Athitakis, Washington City Paper

 

"Porter Shreve has the art of writing comic fiction down pat, but he is after more than laughs. He's going for depth of character and psychological and cultural insights. Shreve is enormously entertaining, his dialogue is especially sharp, and in this hilarious madcap tale of counterculture misadventures each character, including the smart renegade students who magically materialize, supplely illuminate an array of as yet unresolved social issues. In a novel ripe with irony and ripe for a screen adaptation, Shreve gets all the period detail just right, and more importantly captures the contradictions of 1976, a time of pride, hype and economic woes, idealism and hedonism, greed and business as usual. Shreve is a shrewd and funny storyteller who fuses reality with imagination, to mirror our absurdities, our resiliency and our complexity. When the White House Was Ours . . . is the perfect novel to read during this historic and at disconcerting moments seemingly satirical election season." — Donna Seaman, Chicago Public Radio

 

"A loosely autobiographical story of free love and family set against the hopeful but disappointing Carter presidency, Shreve's third novel skillfully interweaves the story of teenager Daniel Truitt with that of the United States at a crossroads.... The political backdrop is perfectly played, as is the bittersweet nostalgia that makes the book and its freewheeling gang irresistible." —Publishers Weekly

 

“Shreve sure tells smart, inventive, sociologically intriguing stories, and his latest is a fun-to-read novel with great relevance and charm... The coming-of-age element is irresistible, as is the impossible dream of an anything-goes school, and what a wild and crazy extended family Shreve has created in the age of free love and Watergate.” —Booklist

 

"There's something lovable, and authentic, at this book's core.... Shreve evokes the emotional landscape of a late-'70s adolescent with tender familiarity: the excitement around the touring King Tut exhibit, the mingled allure and repellence of the counterculture, the dawning recognition that rhetoric and reality can be worlds apart." —Boston Globe

 

"A year in the life of an experimental school, nostalgically evoking both politics and the sunset of hippiedom, in the ’70s. .... [When the White House Was Ours] nicely counterpoints Daniel’s coming-of-age story with the bewildering, and even endearing, goofiness of this memorable time in his—and the country’s—growing up." —Kirkus Reviews

 

"Will the school succeed? Will Mom and Dad divorce? Will Linc and his cohorts get arrested and ruin everything? These are the questions that keep the plot moving forward. There are laugh out-loud scenes and wonderful passages.... Shreve is a good writer with many strengths." —Los Angeles Times

 

"Porter Shreve's warmly wise third novel depicts the struggling Truitt family's efforts to find an alternative school in bicentennial-era Washington, D.C. Narrated by Daniel, an appealing 13-year-old who writes presidential biographies, this tragicomic tale connects the Truitts' educational venture with the desire for change that swept Jimmy Carter into the White House. Daniel's own coming of age (with lessons in love from the achingly beautiful Cleo) parallels the school's and the country's, in what Shreve paints as a last summer for 1960s-style liberal idealism before the long winter of the 1980s and beyond." —Jack Brimm, The Tennessean