Sunday, July 26, 2020


Questions for Readers 

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1.  Why did you pick the book? I'm referring to it as I answer these questions because I just finished it Friday evening.
2.  What did you think about the book? It was very sweet and loving.

3.  What do you know about the author? Jean Kennedy Smith was the eighth of Joe and Rose Kennedy's nine children. Her brothers were John, Robert and Ted Kennedy. From 2009 until this past June, when she died, she was the last one left. I guess that's why I picked up this book -- I wondered how it feels to be the last one left of your tribe.

4.  What’s the most memorable scene? This memoir is really nothing more than a series of anecdotes, or memorable scenes. I appreciated it though because, of all the thousands of books about the Kennedy family, this one was written by someone who was (in today's parlance) in the room where it happened. 

Jean's tiara is really a bracelet attached with bobby pins
One of my favorite moments came near the end. In October, 1963, Jacqueline Kennedy was still recovering from the difficult pregnancy that ended with the death of her baby and so she was not making public appearances. JFK asked his sister, Jean, to take Jackie's place as hostess at a White House reception for the President of Ireland. It was fun to go shopping with Jean as she looked for this light blue dress, and fashioned a tiara out of a bracelet.

Her brother enjoyed how happy all this made Jean and, as they descended that White House staircase, JFK whispered to her, "We've come a long way, haven't we, Jean?" I'm glad Jean got this special moment with him, because he was assassinated a month later.

5.  How did the book make you feel? Sentimental.

6.  How do you feel about the way the story was told? She sugar coated a lot, glossed over a lot more, but it was her story so it was her right to tell it her way.

7.  Which parts of the book stood out to you?  The love. She admired her siblings and her parents and wanted us to see them as she did.

8.  Which specific parts of the protagonist can you relate to? Jean's one-on-one times with her mother -- on the golf course, attending the symphony, etc. My own mom died in 2011, and I recall our mother/daughter times with affection. There's a universality to Jean's story that I didn't expect.

9.  Which character did you relate to the most? "Brother Bobby," as she referred to Robert F. Kennedy. He was a big-hearted boy who simply had to care for every animal he encountered. I share a similar affinity for pets.

10. Share a line or passage from the book.
"It was as if he (Bobby) were born with a purpose that he steadfastly pursued: to impact the world and the things around him, no matter how small."

11. What did you think about the ending? She was too modest. She was our nation's Ambassador to Ireland during the 1990s and helped pave the way for the Belfast peace agreement. Because this memoir is devoted to her parents and siblings, she doesn't mention this at all.

12. Is the story plot driven or character driven? Character driven. There's no "plot" here at all.

13. If the book was made into a movie, what changes or decisions would you hope for? It would make a nice Hallmark or Lifetime movie.

14. How did the book change you? I'm glad I read it now, as I prepare to deal with my own family and my niece's wedding. I will be kinder, and more cognizant of the fact that every time we get together, we are making memories.

15. If the book is part of a series, how does it stand on its own? While it stands on its own, I would warn that this is a loyal and loving memoir and not a history of the Kennedy family.