Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review: When We Were the Kennedys by Monica Wood

When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine
Monica Wood
Published: July 2012

image: Goodreads
This memoir is set in 1963, detailing the lives of a Catholic family in Maine after the sudden death of their beloved father. Later that year, the assassination of President Kennedy throws the nation into mourning, mirroring their family's grief.

Most of this book is not tragic and sad, but is more of an endearing look at  childhood in a town that owed its success to a thriving paper mill. All over town, families forged their own American Dream with fathers working shifts at the mill to provide for their families. The author astutely observes that that American Dream hinged on one primary factor: dad. When he was gone, did that mean their dream vanished, too?

The author adds in a lot of local history and setting "of the times." She mentions it was a time when, during the summer, kids were sent outside and were not expected to be seen again until dinner. Her older sister, mentally disabled, did not have additional options other than being held back a grade, and eventually, the nuns suggest she might be happier at home. The nostalgia is told without a sugar coating, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. 

This is a highly detailed, close look at one slice of Americana. This is just the type of memoir I gravitate toward: it's not sensational or gimmicky, it's just real people living small, but fascinating lives.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard good things about this book. I remember being sent outside and not being expected home for dinner. I'd never do that with my kids! The world has really changed, hasn't it?


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