When We Were the Kennedys

When We Were the Kennedys

A Memoir From Mexico, Maine

Book - 2012
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1963, Mexico, Maine. The Wood family is much like its close, Catholic, immigrant neighbors, all dependent on a father's 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, Mum's 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 don't know that I've ever pulled so hard for a family."--Michael Paterniti, author of Driving Mr. Albert
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
ISBN: 9780547630144
Branch Call Number: 813.54 WOOD
Characteristics: xvii, 235 p. ; 22 cm


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May 13, 2019

When the author was nine in 1963, her father died suddenly on his way to work at the Oxford Paper Company. As Monica, her 4 siblings, and her mother try to cope with this tragedy, the author portrays both the interior life of grief and the historical context of a small paper mill-dependent town in western Maine. For those who were brought up Catholic in the 1950s and 1960s, this memoir will have a very familiar ring and sense of place. The death of President Kennedy in November 1963 eerily correlates with the slower death of the Oxford Paper Company and the small town it once sustained. This book is a gem of a time capsule for Baby Boomers.

Dec 10, 2015

What a great book. I read it over a few days. Monica Wood is a natural writer. She speaks with such ease about her upbringing in Maine, in a factory town. What happens when her Dad dies when she only 9 years old and how her Catholic family manages. It touched me and educated me.

Oct 25, 2015

I loved this beautifully written book! I read about it in Down East magazine. This book speaks to anyone who grew up in a family or town in which a factory was a major employer; anyone who grew up in a Catholic family (and/or a Catholic school); anyone from a family who immigrated to the US to find a better life; anyone who has experienced the loss of a beloved family member, especially in childhood; anyone who remembers 1963 and the Kennedy assassination. In other words, this book is universal, for anyone who has lived any length of time at all. Please order more Monica Wood books!

Sep 25, 2013

An affectionate and clear-eyed backward glance at life in 1960s small-town Maine. I didn't realize how affecting it was until I started to weep reading the acknowledgements at the end. Monica Wood is such a lovely writer.


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May 13, 2019

"What is Mum doing now? Offering it up? Sending he helpless wrath to God?"


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