Biden's sister Valerie touches on family's tragic past, 'mean' politics, Hunter in new memoir

Biden's sister Valerie touches on family's tragic past, 'mean' politics, Hunter in new memoir
President Joe Biden's sister and longtime adviser, Valerie Biden Owens, sheds light on her relationship with the president and their family struggles in her memoir "Growing Up Biden," released Tuesday. File Photo by Alexis C. Glenn/UPI | License Photo

April 12 (UPI) -- Valerie Biden Owens, President Joe Biden's sister and adviser, releases a memoir on Tuesday that touches on a number of issues related to the Biden family -- including the 2020 election, the president's son Hunter and former President Donald Trump.

The memoir, titled Growing Up Biden, draws on hundreds of vignettes and stories Owens has written throughout her life growing up with Biden, working with him in politics and facing adversity together.


"The thread of what put the fabric of family together was commitment and loyalty and love, and then heartbreak and disappointment and loss," Owens said during a virtual event promoting the release.

Owens said she and Biden trust each other implicitly and he has often told her that she can speak to him candidly on any topic, including politics.


"When you love somebody it doesn't mean that you roll over and you praise them and put them on a pedestal," she said during the event by George Washington University.

"When you love somebody and you know they're good, then you expect them to be the best they can be, and I've always expected Joe Biden to be the best Joe Biden that he can be."

In the book, Owens describes a multitude of events and issues -- such as Biden losing his first wife Neilia and young daughter Naomi in a car crash in 1972, his rise in politics and the controversy related to his son Hunter.

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"The only race that I wasn't enthusiastic about Joe getting involved in was the 2020 presidency because I expected ... that it would be ugly and mean, and it would be an attack on my brother" she told CBS News' Gayle King.

"I assumed from the beginning that the former president and his entourage would attack my brother by going and attacking my family."

President Joe Biden speaks on Monday about gun violence in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Owens vividly describes the crash that killed the president's wife and daughter a half-century ago.

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"Neilia had been broadsided by an eighteen-wheeler as she was crossing the two-lane highway. The truck was coming off a very steep hill, and it was a massive collision," according to an excerpt of the book published by Axios. "Apparently, the car was in the air 150 feet, hit three trees, and flipped over. The boys were severely hurt.

"There was an invasive outpouring of love, concern, morbid curiosity. Crowds outside the hospital, news trucks, microphones, the whole bit."

One of Biden's longtime campaign advisers, Owens told USA Today that she and the president speak multiple times each week and she seeks to provide a break from his duties as president.

"When he calls, I don't talk about what happened with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin today," she told the newspaper. "We talk about family. It's a respite ... we talk about nothing, and in talking about nothing, we talk about everything. I don't have to say a whole lot, because we understand each other."

Owens also said one of the most difficult parts of the memoir was "exposing the vulnerabilities of a family and addiction" referring to Hunter Biden, who has struggled with addiction and is a frequent Republican target over his time on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.


CBS News reported last month that a federal investigation into Hunter Biden's business practices is broader than previously believed.

"Hunter walked through hell," she told USA Today. "He didn't wake up and say, 'Aunt Val, I think I'm going to be an addict. And so whatever happens, it's my responsibility.'"

Owens added that the Bidens are prepared for the possibility of further scrutiny of the president's 52-year-old son if Republicans were to take control of Congress this fall. The president's first son, Beau, had only recently left office as attorney general of Delaware when he died of cancer in 2015.

"I don't know what could be worse than Beau's dying of glioblastoma when he was 46 years old," Owens said. "I don't know what could be worse than watching Hunter walk through hell.

"You never say the worst is over, but whatever comes, we can handle it as a family."

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