I'll admit I'm a bit of a fan girl when it comes to royal families - and the Kennedy's are one of those famous families that fascinate me. This story made me sad though. Rosemary's parents inability to accept her was disturbing. They continually looked for ways to "fix" the problem rather than accept who she was. It's difficult to be imperfect when you're so worried about what everyone around you thinks. Although, I hope the family would argue that they weren't worried about what others were thinking and rather, more interested in helping her to be all she could be. The author's opinion definitely seemed to be that it was the former.
It was interesting to read the ideas they had about special needs education back then. Moving her from school to school was kind of sad. It made me want to make sure I'm more inclusive as a teacher. Joe Kennedy's take on Hitler and the war with Hitler and the Nazi's was also fascinating to follow. Clearly, he got it wrong. We sure have gone down some crazy roads when it comes to health and science.
The story of her lobotomy was sad. The author called it the beginning of the Kennedy tragedies. I'd agree. I had to wonder if keeping Rosemary hidden was the beginning of bad karma for the family. It was disturbing to hear about how her mother, Rose, didn't admit to knowing anything about the surgery and was complicit in keeping her hidden away for years after. The author says that perhaps she is the Kennedy that made the biggest difference. She is the reason the special Olympics were started, which was interesting considering of all the Kennedys, she was least interested in sports. It was something they made her do for her own good.
They were the most prominent American family of the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.
Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled — a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family. Major new sources — Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors' letters, and exclusive family interviews — bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then — as the family’s standing reached an apex — the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three, and the family's complicity in keeping the secret.
Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.