I began this year with Christopher Andersen’s The Good Son: JFK Jr and the Mother He Loved. Growing up, all I ever took note about JFK and his family were the Monroe scandal, the assassination, Jackie marrying a billionaire, and his brother Ted Kennedy. I always associated Jackie with O and her lavishly fashionable lifestyle. Not much more than that. I never knew that Jackie suffered from severe PTSD and John Jr died not from the “Kennedy curse” but rather from his obstinate character. And also, how do Presidents find time to have affairs?? Historically, there hasn’t been a single POTUS who didn’t have an extramarital affair! And the fact that Jack was involved with so many women (SO many)… it has inevitably tainted my image of him indefinitely.
I think biographies are the most challenging to write intimately but Andersen’s book is extremely well written. It is sensitive and intriguing, and it ends on such a longing note. It’s a poignant reminder that Jackie genuinely dedicated the remainder of her life to ensure that her kids grew up in a protected and compassionate environment. She desperately sought after her husband’s brother as a father figure for her kids, asking him to legally adopt them. When that didn’t pan out she hastily married a Greek magnate for financial stability. She put on a strong face for the public so the any negative impact (if any) were prevented from rippling into the lives of her children. Though Jack’s political charisma and ambition were never bequeathed on to his living legacy, John Jr. found inspiration in other ways that subtly proved to Americans that he had a blessedly fulfilled life. Jackie would have been proud.
dee’s recommendation: 4/5