STARRED REVIEW
November 2016

The last Kennedy tells her story

By Jean Kennedy Smith
Our fascination with the Kennedys never wanes. Those interested in taking a fresh peek behind the scenes of this famous American family will eagerly gobble up The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy by Jean Kennedy Smith, (the eighth of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, and the last surviving member of the Kennedy clan). Now 88, she recalls her childhood in vivid detail—long summer days frolicking in the Hyannis Port surf, winter afternoons sledding near their spacious Bronxville, New York, estate, and her family’s experiences in London when President Roosevelt appointed their father ambassador to the Court of St. James.
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Our fascination with the Kennedys never wanes. Those interested in taking a fresh peek behind the scenes of this famous American family will eagerly gobble up The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy by Jean Kennedy Smith, (the eighth of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, and the last surviving member of the Kennedy clan). Now 88, she recalls her childhood in vivid detail—long summer days frolicking in the Hyannis Port surf, winter afternoons sledding near their spacious Bronxville, New York, estate, and her family’s experiences in London when President Roosevelt appointed their father ambassador to the Court of St. James. 

The book focuses on Smith’s youth and the loving yet firm parents who nurtured and guided her and her eight siblings. Smith’s deep love and respect for her parents is profoundly evident in this series of vignettes about life as a young Kennedy. Her mother saw “child rearing not only as a work of love and duty but also a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession,” a mindset that likely kept her grounded while managing such a large household. And although her father lived an extremely busy life, he was generous and affectionate—“our champion and defender,” says Smith. 

Being one of nine children, Smith always had a companion, and she gives several examples of how the Kennedy siblings maintained a powerful connection throughout their lives. As she fondly relates, “I can say without reservation that I do not remember a day in our childhood without laughter.” She lovingly shares stories of sailing escapades, swim lessons with her patient older sister Eunice, lively dinner table discussions and many other treasured moments. Enhanced by pictures depicting the Kennedy family throughout the years, this is a light, easy, enjoyable read.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Nine of Us

The Nine of Us

By Jean Kennedy Smith
Harper
ISBN 9780062444226

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