Book Review: The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable
Whatever your political leanings, you don't need to be a democrat or a republican to know what love feels like. So don't be afraid that this book is just another look at the famous JFK and his affairs. It's so much more and honestly, it left me quite sad but I'm still so happy to have experienced the world through the eyes of Alicia Corning Clark.
I am familiar with JFK's reputation, but I have never delved into the background of his family. About 4 chapters into The Summer I Met Jack, I went to the library for several biographies in order to keep all of the characters straight. The Kennedys are fascinating and Michelle Gable does a fabulous job bringing their characters to life on the page.
Alicia Darr is a Polish immigrant who was forced to flee to America after the war. She secretly has dreams of becoming an artist and realizing the American dream. That dream came in the form of a young congressman, whom she met while working at a movie theater. They pursue each other in a feverish, desperate way that made me happy and sad all at the same time. Because we know how it ends: JFK marries the poster wife, Jackie and no one has ever heard of Alicia Corning Clark. So going into the book, I knew the ending but I was still so fascinated about Alicia's side of the story: She and JFK have an on and off again, passionate affair for years, all the while, he is climbing both the celebrity and the political ladder. She stays behind the curtain, though, due to her immigrant and religious background and the Kennedy family makes sure she stays there.
Alicia's future with Jack is sealed when Joe Kennedy refuses to let them marry after Alicia reveals that she is Jewish. What follows is a lifetime of secrets, heartbreak and intrigue, as the world continues to revolve around the Kennedys and Alicia is forced to live her life without her first love.
The book is based on true events and documents back up some of the claims that Alicia made, but other rumors are left open to interpretation, including whether or not JFK may have had other children, who killed Marilyn Monroe and how much it costs to keep someone quiet. You will love the glittering description of Hollywood and celebrities in the 1950s.
If JFK really loved Alicia like this story depicts, then he must have been the most heartbroken man in the world behind that dazzling, famous smile.
They chased and ran from each other for years, but actions speak louder than words and JFK gave up everything in order to fulfill his family's dream of having a Kennedy in The White House. Thus, Alicia is forced to live a life completely different from the one she imagined when JFK promised her the world.
I was enthralled with this story and I will recommend it one hundred times over. You always hope for a happy ending but when it doesn't, the story leading up to that ending is still worth knowing.
My favorite line is from JFK:
"It doesn't matter what city we're in. When I see you, it's like coming home."