Synopses & Reviews
"Intimate but expansive . . . A tender memoir of a very different time."—O magazine
"This is an extraordinarily moving book, so carefully and artfully realized . . . Monica Wood displays all her superb novelistic skills in this breathtaking, evocative new memoir. Wow." —Ken Burns, filmmaker 1963, Mexico, Maine. The Wood family is much like its close, Catholic, immigrant neighbors, all dependent on a fathers wages from the Oxford Paper Company. Until the sudden death of Dad, when Mum and the four closely connected Wood girls are set adrift. Funny and to-the-bone moving, When We Were the Kennedys is the story of how this family saves itself, at first by depending on Father Bob, Mums youngest brother, a charismatic Catholic priest who feels his new responsibilities deeply. And then, as the nation is shocked by the loss of its handsome Catholic president, the televised grace of Jackie Kennedy—she too a Catholic widow with young children—galvanizes Mum to set off on an unprecedented family road trip to Washington, D.C., to do some rescuing of her own. An indelible story of how family and nation, each shocked by the unimaginable, exchange one identity for another.
“Monica Wood has written a gorgeous, gripping memoir. I dont know that Ive ever pulled so hard for a family.”—Michael Paterniti, author of Driving Mr. Albert
Monica Wood's moving memoir of the season in 1963 Mexico, Maine, as she, her mother, and her three sisters healed after the loss of their mill-worker father and then the nation's loss of its handsome young Catholic president.
Winner of the 2012 Sarton Memoir Award
“Every few years, a memoir comes along that revitalizes the form…With generous, precise, and unsentimental prose, Monica Wood brilliantly achieves this . . . When We Were the Kennedys is a deeply moving gem!”—Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog and Townie
Mexico, Maine, 1963: The Wood family is much like its close, Catholic, immigrant neighbors, all dependent on the fathers wages from the Oxford Paper Company. But when Dad suddenly dies on his way to work, Mum and the four deeply connected Wood girls are set adrift. When We Were the Kennedys is the story of how a family, a town, and then a nation mourns and finds the strength to move on.
“On her own terms, wry and empathetic, Wood locates the melodies in the aftershock of sudden loss.”—Boston Globe
“[A] marvel of storytelling, layered and rich. It is, by turns, a chronicle of the renowned paper mill that was both pride and poison to several generations of a town; a tribute to the ethnic stew of immigrant families that grew and prospered there; and an account of one familys grief, love, and resilience.”—Maine Sunday Telegram
About the Author
MONICA WOOD is the author of When We Were the Kennedys: A Memoir from Mexico, Maine. Her 2005 novel Any Bitter Thing spent twenty-one weeks on the American Booksellers Association extended bestseller list and was named a Book Sense Top Ten pick. Her other fiction includes Ernie’s Ark and My Only Story, a finalist for the Kate Chopin Award. She lives in Portland, Maine.
Table of Contents
Prologue: My Mexico xiii
1. Morning 1
2. Wake 21
3. Hiding 35
4. Explorers 55
5. Too Much Stairs 77
6. Paper 97
7. Three Vanillas 111
8. Offer It Up 123
9. The Mystery of the Missing Man 137
10. Just Nervous 149
11. Widows Instructions 165
12. Our Nations Capital 179
13. Anniversary 199
14. I Hear Music 213
Epilogue: New Page 223