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The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women

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Rosemary (Rosie) Kennedy was born in 1918, the first daughter of a wealthy Bostonian couple who later would become known as the patriarch and matriarch of America’s most famous and celebrated family. Elizabeth Koehler was born in 1957, the first and only child of a struggling Wisconsin farm family. What, besides their religion, did these two very different Catholic women h Rosemary (Rosie) Kennedy was born in 1918, the first daughter of a wealthy Bostonian couple who later would become known as the patriarch and matriarch of America’s most famous and celebrated family. Elizabeth Koehler was born in 1957, the first and only child of a struggling Wisconsin farm family. What, besides their religion, did these two very different Catholic women have in common? One person: Stella Koehler, a charismatic woman of the cloth who became Sister Paulus Koehler after taking her vows with the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi. Sister Paulus was Elizabeth's Wisconsin aunt. For thirty-five years―indeed much of her adult life―Sister Paulus was Rosie Kennedy’s caregiver. And a caregiver, tragically, had become necessary after Rosie, a slow learner prone to emotional outbursts, underwent one of America’s first lobotomies―an operation Joseph Kennedy was assured would normalize Rosie’s life. It did not. Rosie’s condition became decidedly worse. After the procedure, Joe Kennedy sent Rosie to rural Wisconsin and Saint Coletta, a Catholic-run home for the mentally disabled. For the next two decades, she never saw her siblings, her parents, or any other relative, the doctors having issued stern instructions that even the occasional family visit would be emotionally disruptive to Rosie. Following Joseph Kennedy’s stroke in 1961, the Kennedy family, led by mother Rose and sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, resumed face to face contact with Rosie. It was also about then that a young Elizabeth Koehler began paying visits to Rosie. In this insightful and poignant memoir, based in part on Sister Paulus’ private notes and augmented by over one-hundred never-before-seen photos, Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff recalls the many happy and memorable times spent with the “missing Kennedy.” She looks at the many parallels between Rosie’s post-operative life, her own, and those of the two families. And, most important, she traces how, entirely because of Rosie, the Kennedy and Shriver families embarked on an exceedingly consequential campaign advancing the cause of the developmentally disabled―a campaign that continues to this day. Ten years after Rosie’s death comes a highly personal yet fitting testimonial to a sad but truly meaningful and important life.


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Rosemary (Rosie) Kennedy was born in 1918, the first daughter of a wealthy Bostonian couple who later would become known as the patriarch and matriarch of America’s most famous and celebrated family. Elizabeth Koehler was born in 1957, the first and only child of a struggling Wisconsin farm family. What, besides their religion, did these two very different Catholic women h Rosemary (Rosie) Kennedy was born in 1918, the first daughter of a wealthy Bostonian couple who later would become known as the patriarch and matriarch of America’s most famous and celebrated family. Elizabeth Koehler was born in 1957, the first and only child of a struggling Wisconsin farm family. What, besides their religion, did these two very different Catholic women have in common? One person: Stella Koehler, a charismatic woman of the cloth who became Sister Paulus Koehler after taking her vows with the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi. Sister Paulus was Elizabeth's Wisconsin aunt. For thirty-five years―indeed much of her adult life―Sister Paulus was Rosie Kennedy’s caregiver. And a caregiver, tragically, had become necessary after Rosie, a slow learner prone to emotional outbursts, underwent one of America’s first lobotomies―an operation Joseph Kennedy was assured would normalize Rosie’s life. It did not. Rosie’s condition became decidedly worse. After the procedure, Joe Kennedy sent Rosie to rural Wisconsin and Saint Coletta, a Catholic-run home for the mentally disabled. For the next two decades, she never saw her siblings, her parents, or any other relative, the doctors having issued stern instructions that even the occasional family visit would be emotionally disruptive to Rosie. Following Joseph Kennedy’s stroke in 1961, the Kennedy family, led by mother Rose and sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, resumed face to face contact with Rosie. It was also about then that a young Elizabeth Koehler began paying visits to Rosie. In this insightful and poignant memoir, based in part on Sister Paulus’ private notes and augmented by over one-hundred never-before-seen photos, Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff recalls the many happy and memorable times spent with the “missing Kennedy.” She looks at the many parallels between Rosie’s post-operative life, her own, and those of the two families. And, most important, she traces how, entirely because of Rosie, the Kennedy and Shriver families embarked on an exceedingly consequential campaign advancing the cause of the developmentally disabled―a campaign that continues to this day. Ten years after Rosie’s death comes a highly personal yet fitting testimonial to a sad but truly meaningful and important life.

30 review for The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I totally feel suckered. This book was horrible and not at all like I thought it would be. First of all, this is an extremely quick read with tons and tons of photos. I'm ok that it's a quick read - and I like the photos - but this is such a surface level read, it probably would have been better to read Wikipedia to find out more. There's very little effort here by the author to analyze what happened in this woman's life or provide any insightful information about her. Instead, the vast majority I totally feel suckered. This book was horrible and not at all like I thought it would be. First of all, this is an extremely quick read with tons and tons of photos. I'm ok that it's a quick read - and I like the photos - but this is such a surface level read, it probably would have been better to read Wikipedia to find out more. There's very little effort here by the author to analyze what happened in this woman's life or provide any insightful information about her. Instead, the vast majority of the book is consumed by stories of the author's family history which I really didn't care to learn. Not only is the author's family NOT the Kennedys, the history is also quite boring! The author makes the mistake of believing that anyone would find her family history or personal religious/political beliefs interesting in a story that purports to be about the Kennedys. Total bait and switch. Don't waste your time or money.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joanie

    I admit it, I am one of those people who has always been fascinated with the Kennedy family. While I have grown increasingly aware of their faults over the years, I remain fascinated with their family ethos. Since my teenage years, I have read books about the family as well as biographies of various members of the family, but none of these books has ever revealed anything about the oldest daughter, Rosemary Kennedy. When I read a review of this book, my only thought in buying it was to learn mor I admit it, I am one of those people who has always been fascinated with the Kennedy family. While I have grown increasingly aware of their faults over the years, I remain fascinated with their family ethos. Since my teenage years, I have read books about the family as well as biographies of various members of the family, but none of these books has ever revealed anything about the oldest daughter, Rosemary Kennedy. When I read a review of this book, my only thought in buying it was to learn more about her. What this book offers is so much more. Elizabeth Koelher-Pentacoff tells two stories for the price of one. She tells Rosemary's story simultaneously with that of her family, and, well, it just clicks. There are so many parallels that the reader begins to realize that what happened to Rosemary (while horrifying) actually probably ended up giving her a far better life than she ever would have had if she had stayed with her family in Boston. Even if you are not a Kennedy watcher as I have been, you may very well appreciate what this story has to offer. There is lots to share about faith, mental illness, family struggles, and love.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This book could have used a strong editor. The story of the care and friendship Rosemary Kennedy received from the author's aunt, a nun, was interesting. But intertwining the Koehler family story with the Kennedys does not work, and parts of Rosemary's story, lost with Joe Kennedy's death, are weak and poorly executed. The story of Rosemary and Sister Paulus is inspiring, and at the end the author details the work the Kennedys have done on behalf of the mentally disabled. That is also inspiring This book could have used a strong editor. The story of the care and friendship Rosemary Kennedy received from the author's aunt, a nun, was interesting. But intertwining the Koehler family story with the Kennedys does not work, and parts of Rosemary's story, lost with Joe Kennedy's death, are weak and poorly executed. The story of Rosemary and Sister Paulus is inspiring, and at the end the author details the work the Kennedys have done on behalf of the mentally disabled. That is also inspiring how they turned a hidden family tragedy into action that has helped so many. Over all, a story that fills in some gaps but leaves much unanswered and doesn't live up to its promise.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I was disappointed in this book. The author tells us more about her own family, the Koehlers, than she really says about Rosemary. It's very short, 211 pages with lots of pictures, and at least half is spent on the authors family roots, how she grew up, and her nun aunt who did take care of "Rosie". There was a lot of this could have happened or Joe Kennedy might have been thinking like this. Author should have done some research about the Kennedys instead of just tossing in what she thought hap I was disappointed in this book. The author tells us more about her own family, the Koehlers, than she really says about Rosemary. It's very short, 211 pages with lots of pictures, and at least half is spent on the authors family roots, how she grew up, and her nun aunt who did take care of "Rosie". There was a lot of this could have happened or Joe Kennedy might have been thinking like this. Author should have done some research about the Kennedys instead of just tossing in what she thought happened. The only good thing was that it only took about 2 hours to get through, but still 2 hours wasted.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Very interesting but not a lot of new facts. There is a lot of speculation by the author. The book also includes much about the author's life which is unnecessary and oddly placed. From the 1st page the book is confusing. The chapters don't gel and new people are not introduced sufficiently. Don't buy this book...wait for the next book to be published about Rosemary Kennedy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Eiben

    The Secrets Kept. This is a revelation to me; who grew up hearing the Kennedy's are this and the Kennedy's are that. Such good Christians. I have chills at this story. How horrible. I am the daughter of a man who pressed clothes for his living. Worked hard. Long hours ...my parents provided for me and my 2 brothers on very little money. They idolized the Kennedy's. I'm glad the Kennedy kids brought light to the mentally disadvantaged (retarded), but my dad would not have liked them had he read this The Secrets Kept. This is a revelation to me; who grew up hearing the Kennedy's are this and the Kennedy's are that. Such good Christians. I have chills at this story. How horrible. I am the daughter of a man who pressed clothes for his living. Worked hard. Long hours ...my parents provided for me and my 2 brothers on very little money. They idolized the Kennedy's. I'm glad the Kennedy kids brought light to the mentally disadvantaged (retarded), but my dad would not have liked them had he read this book. Had he known JOE, butchered his daughter for his own gain. And hid her. My brother was profoundly retarded. We never knew why. Secrets. But mom and dad kept him home. It was hard. One thing I cried about was for 20 years a mother doesn't know where her child is? And doesn't care to find out? What a despicable jerk Joe kennedy was. She was learning disabled. All their money, and you couldn't keep her near family. You selfish jerk. I'm very disappointed. Glad Rosemary got away from those cold parents. Thanks to the nuns who did the parents job and showed Jesus love to her. Thanks to her nieces and nephews who seem more compassionate. I've been to Hyannis ... I live in Kennedy country. They have lots of property, and Hyannis is away from Boston. Hide her there with a staff of nuns. So sickening and sad. But a wake up call. How many more secrets do the rich and famous have? And who let Joe Kennedy play GOD? Oh yeah the rich care!!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Janet C-B

    I read this book a few months after reading a biography about the same person, Rosemary Kennedy. Unlike other readers, I was critical of the other book, but generally positive about The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women. On this review, I will start with the negative. Somehow, I missed the fact that this was memoir about the author, who was a regular visitor to Rosemary Kennedy, during the author's childhood, teen, and young adult years. The relationship between I read this book a few months after reading a biography about the same person, Rosemary Kennedy. Unlike other readers, I was critical of the other book, but generally positive about The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women. On this review, I will start with the negative. Somehow, I missed the fact that this was memoir about the author, who was a regular visitor to Rosemary Kennedy, during the author's childhood, teen, and young adult years. The relationship between the author amd Rosemary Kennedy, took place at St. Colletta's in Wisconsin, where Rosemary Kennedy lived for 20 years after her lobotomy. The second negative was that the writing seemed disjointed. I had trouble figuring out where this was all headed. This may be because I had an electronic library copy of the book and had trouble finding the index. This book seemed to be the flip side of the more recent publication, which was a biography of the life of Rosemary Kennedy, which to me, demonized the wealthy Kennedy family. One major positive of this memoir is that it described Rosemary's mental retardation, mental illness and lobotomy, within the context of the historical period. The time frame of this book preceded early intervention for children with special needs, special needs education, and the availabilty of medications to treat mental illness (a problem which emerged when Rosemary was a young adult.) This book also descibed the quality of Rosemary's life during the time she lived at St. Colletta's in WI. Rosemary had a loving, patient, primary caregiver for 2 decades. She was treated with a great deal of patience, respect, and recognition of what brought her pleasure in life. The caregiver provided those experiences that made Rosemary happy...swimming, eating in casual restaurants, window shopping, inclusion in the community of residents at St. Colletta's. Another positive aspect of this memoir, described Rosemary's reintegration into the family life of the Kennedy clan with photos taken of her at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis, MA and photos that showed a warm relationship between Rosemary and several family members including her siblings Ethel and Ted, as well as a nephew. The book highlighted the positive changes that came about as a result of the Kennedy family's experience with Rosemary including the Special Olympics, Best Buddies and other programs that are part of our current approach to people with special needs. There were many photos of Rosemary Kennedy and various caregivers and family members. Rosemary's disabilities were unmistakeable, yet she was loved and accepted by her small network. I give this book a rating of 4 stars, because the life of Rosemary Kennedy is put within the context of the times. Also the author has made connections with programs which exist today as a result of Rosemary's life experience.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Very misleading. I thought this would be a factual book with the sole subject being Rosemary Kennedy. The small title does read "the secret bond of four women", something I did not take notice of until I had already begun to read. The author, lacking information on Rosemary, filled her short book with information on her family's lives. While yes, one woman was actively involved with Rosemary, the rest did nothing to peak my interest since the main reason I picked up the book was to read about th Very misleading. I thought this would be a factual book with the sole subject being Rosemary Kennedy. The small title does read "the secret bond of four women", something I did not take notice of until I had already begun to read. The author, lacking information on Rosemary, filled her short book with information on her family's lives. While yes, one woman was actively involved with Rosemary, the rest did nothing to peak my interest since the main reason I picked up the book was to read about the "missing Kennedy". The rest of the women had some to little interaction with Rosemary and their information was too much on their own lives. There were cited sources, however there was far too much hearsay. The book was littered with phrases such as "Joe may have thought". If I wanted to read what might have happened, I'd read a gossip column. Very disappointed in this read. Thankfully it was short and full of pictures.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    The writing style is not professional, and the writer deals gently with Joe Kennedy. Because she primarily tells the relationship of her aunt and Rosemary, the author deals with the positives of Rosemary's life without dwelling on the negatives. In other words, the tone is accepting, gentle, and loving---obviously someone close to the family. While this is not a full, unbiased story, it is a valuable addition to the Kennedy saga. The most intriguing parts of the book are the myriad photographs, The writing style is not professional, and the writer deals gently with Joe Kennedy. Because she primarily tells the relationship of her aunt and Rosemary, the author deals with the positives of Rosemary's life without dwelling on the negatives. In other words, the tone is accepting, gentle, and loving---obviously someone close to the family. While this is not a full, unbiased story, it is a valuable addition to the Kennedy saga. The most intriguing parts of the book are the myriad photographs, proving the adage "a picture is worth a thousand words," and in this case, even more. Perhaps this is why I rated the book as a four.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I was very excited for this book - pre ordered it and everything. I am very disappointed in it. The parts about Rosemary are interesting, as is some of the history of the author's aunt, who is the nun who cared for Rosemary for years. However, the writing is poor, and the author spends more time on her own family history than on Rosemary. The book is mis-titled, I feel duped by the marketing, and kind of like the author exploited Rosemary and the draw of her family to sell a really-not-good book I was very excited for this book - pre ordered it and everything. I am very disappointed in it. The parts about Rosemary are interesting, as is some of the history of the author's aunt, who is the nun who cared for Rosemary for years. However, the writing is poor, and the author spends more time on her own family history than on Rosemary. The book is mis-titled, I feel duped by the marketing, and kind of like the author exploited Rosemary and the draw of her family to sell a really-not-good book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    A short, fast read about Rosemary Kennedy, the disabled sister of a president. I knew nothing about her going in, so it was interesting, but the book is clearly fleshed out a bit but he authors speculation, and her own family history. It's a sad story, with a happier second half than expected, but I really found the deliver frustrating.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This took me 3.5 hours to finish and is mostly pictures. There are some major things I have wrong with this book: 1: the title is misleading and should be called "a memoir of my family's mental illness and myself and how my aunt cared for Rosemary". 2: 3/4 of the book was about the authors family and had absolutely nothing to do with the book. I get it that your fathers house burned down, but what does that have to do with your aunt being schizophrenic or yourself being epileptic? 3: there is no This took me 3.5 hours to finish and is mostly pictures. There are some major things I have wrong with this book: 1: the title is misleading and should be called "a memoir of my family's mental illness and myself and how my aunt cared for Rosemary". 2: 3/4 of the book was about the authors family and had absolutely nothing to do with the book. I get it that your fathers house burned down, but what does that have to do with your aunt being schizophrenic or yourself being epileptic? 3: there is not very much information about rosemary and her lobotomy. Seriously, it's one page. 4: I feel like the author used the Kennedy name to publish a book about her family's mental illness (which only one had met Rosemary). 5: the author goes off on tangents absolutely irrelevant to the book. Actually, I'm not sure what the subject is supposed to be. Maybe if the author had instead presented this book as one about mental illness it would be more popularly received, but as it is, I think it was poorly written with no clear subject. I was expecting to read about Rosemary and her mind and some about what went wrong with her lobotomy, but there was absolutely nothing about any of that. The Author refers to her "research" but I find no evidence of research. My question to her would be "is this book your opinion or facts?"

  13. 4 out of 5

    Berni Phillips

    This was a very interesting, very fast read. I was not aware of Rosemary Kennedy, not being one in love with the Kennedy mythos. Koelher-Pentacoff takes an interesting approach, working from her childhood recollections of visits to Rosie, as she knew her, and her aunt, Sister Paulus. Koelher-Pentacoff tries too hard with her parallels, though. In her efforts to mirror Rosie's tale, she digs into her own family history, making the fatal error of TMI: too much information. The author is an only chi This was a very interesting, very fast read. I was not aware of Rosemary Kennedy, not being one in love with the Kennedy mythos. Koelher-Pentacoff takes an interesting approach, working from her childhood recollections of visits to Rosie, as she knew her, and her aunt, Sister Paulus. Koelher-Pentacoff tries too hard with her parallels, though. In her efforts to mirror Rosie's tale, she digs into her own family history, making the fatal error of TMI: too much information. The author is an only child, but she has many cousins. I wonder how they feel about her dragging the family laundry out in public like this. What this book does best, besides present the horror of a person who had been misdiagnosed and subject to an inexpert lobotomy, is highlight how Rosie's tragedy caused the whole Kennedy-Shriver clan to pull together in the cause of the developmentally challenged and institute reforms and programs that would otherwise never have come about. So kudos to K-P for that. (I'm tired of typing her whole name.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    It was interesting to know a little more about Rosemary Kennedy but it leaves you feeling deprived of knowing more. It was an interesting concept to parallel the author's family history to the Kennedys story but it falls flat and you only know a tiny bit about each. My guess is that the author would never have got any attention without the Kennedy name in the title but the reader feels cheated and deceived.The writing is on a young adult level and you quickly lose interest in the author's family It was interesting to know a little more about Rosemary Kennedy but it leaves you feeling deprived of knowing more. It was an interesting concept to parallel the author's family history to the Kennedys story but it falls flat and you only know a tiny bit about each. My guess is that the author would never have got any attention without the Kennedy name in the title but the reader feels cheated and deceived.The writing is on a young adult level and you quickly lose interest in the author's family. Much more could have been written about mental illness and learning disabilities without being pedantic. It is hard to believe that the mother and the other children did not wonder more about what happened to Rosemary. The photos are interesting but so many of them are poor and blurry. The ones that are clear are shocking in that you see a beautiful young girl who seemed pretty sociable and normal and then post lobotomy a lethargic and partially paralyzed childlike adult. It is a sad story but too short and dissatisfying.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leah Brown

    Sad This was a sad book about mental retardation and illness. I bought it because I thought it would focus more on the Kennedys, unfortunately the author used a lot of "might have" and "may have" which leads me to believe she didn't have a lot of primary documents. I appreciated the authors candor about her family's struggle with mental illness, but really wanted a book that focused more on Rosemary Kennedy and Kennedys. I appreciated that the authors aunt was a devoted non-who gave loving care t Sad This was a sad book about mental retardation and illness. I bought it because I thought it would focus more on the Kennedys, unfortunately the author used a lot of "might have" and "may have" which leads me to believe she didn't have a lot of primary documents. I appreciated the authors candor about her family's struggle with mental illness, but really wanted a book that focused more on Rosemary Kennedy and Kennedys. I appreciated that the authors aunt was a devoted non-who gave loving care to Rosemary. I couldn't help but wonder, however, why the author felt the need to relay the private, mundane details of Rosemary's life. It felt less like a well researched, scholarly biography and more like a sad tell all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Richard Baranski

    Pure Apologetics A true defense of the Kennedy's, especially Joe Sr. To put the blame of Rosemary's horrendous treatment and life on the doctor's of the time negates the political and social ambitions of the Kennedy clan. I was shocked to read that neither President Kennedy or his children found the time to visit Rosemary. While the Franciscan sisters did well for Rosemary they colluded with the family to keep Rosemary well hidden for years. For the record, a novitiate is a place, people are novi Pure Apologetics A true defense of the Kennedy's, especially Joe Sr. To put the blame of Rosemary's horrendous treatment and life on the doctor's of the time negates the political and social ambitions of the Kennedy clan. I was shocked to read that neither President Kennedy or his children found the time to visit Rosemary. While the Franciscan sisters did well for Rosemary they colluded with the family to keep Rosemary well hidden for years. For the record, a novitiate is a place, people are novices!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sue Palmer

    A Personal Glimpse into a little-known Kennedy's Life This was such a personal glimpse into the life of Rosemary Kennedy, at turns tragic, sometimes horrifying but ultimately revelatory and hopeful, a story about so much more than the Kennedys. I'm glad I chose to read it and grateful for the way one woman's mistreatment through ignorance led the way toward improvements in our understanding of such issues and greater dignity and appreciation for the mentally and physically challenged.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kgould

    I was not overly impressed with this book at all. The author is obviously a children's author who cannot write to an adult level audience. Having read many children's books as a Children's Librarian it was very obvious to me. The author also didn't know the Kennedy family yet made assumptions as to what they were thinking or why they may have done certain things. The words, "May have thought" or " probably" were used in discussing situations that makes the book very close to a fiction title rath I was not overly impressed with this book at all. The author is obviously a children's author who cannot write to an adult level audience. Having read many children's books as a Children's Librarian it was very obvious to me. The author also didn't know the Kennedy family yet made assumptions as to what they were thinking or why they may have done certain things. The words, "May have thought" or " probably" were used in discussing situations that makes the book very close to a fiction title rather than nonfiction.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chantal Damphousse

    The story of Rosemary Kennedy is all at once tragic and moving. It serves as an incredible cautionary tale and a catalyst for the many efforts put forth by the Kennedy & Shriver families in the fight for the recognition of rights for and acceptance of people with mental or physical disabilities. This book will have you go through an array of emotion but you will feel gratitude for the legacy left by this incredible woman, her family and the nun who cared for her. The story of Rosemary Kennedy is all at once tragic and moving. It serves as an incredible cautionary tale and a catalyst for the many efforts put forth by the Kennedy & Shriver families in the fight for the recognition of rights for and acceptance of people with mental or physical disabilities. This book will have you go through an array of emotion but you will feel gratitude for the legacy left by this incredible woman, her family and the nun who cared for her.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dona

    This book was overall very unsatisfactory. As much as I enjoy reading about the Kennedy's this story did not entertain or provide any real new information. I really didn't like the way she tried to pad the book with stories of her own totally unremarkable family.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    An unknown Kennedy The book jumped around a lot and the direction was a bit muddled at first, but the author wound the stories together nicely. I am saddened that Rosemary was treated the way she was for so long, but I'm glad she finally found Sister Paulus.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    I would like to give this book a 3 1/2 It has been written from an interesting perspective, as the author's aunt was a caregiver to Rosemary Kennedy in the latter half of Rosie's life. So the author told both Rosemary's story and her aunt's story in tandem until their stories converged. Elizabeth also included some scenarios from her own life and her extended family life that helped her to have compassion and understanding for Rosie. Along with these 3 elements, Elizabeth included quotes and sto I would like to give this book a 3 1/2 It has been written from an interesting perspective, as the author's aunt was a caregiver to Rosemary Kennedy in the latter half of Rosie's life. So the author told both Rosemary's story and her aunt's story in tandem until their stories converged. Elizabeth also included some scenarios from her own life and her extended family life that helped her to have compassion and understanding for Rosie. Along with these 3 elements, Elizabeth included quotes and stories from the extended Kennedy family, especially the Shrivers, as Rosemary's sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver was deeply effected by her reunion with her sister. Eunice's family found many ways to support and encourage Rosie as well as the mentally challenged community as a whole. Some sad and interesting insights into the care and treatment of those with mental illness at the turn of the century and ways that the Kennedy family made a positive impact over the years because of their love for their sister Rosemary.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    This book was kind of a disappointment. The author didn't give much detail on Rosemary's life and instead more focused on her life. She told many stories about the Koehlers and not as much about the Kennedys. Even the things that she said about Rosie can probably be found on a simple internet search.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Scaff

    It was an awesome subject matter but I think the author was confused on who her audience was. People chose this book for more insight on Rosemary, not to read page after page of humble brags by the author because her family is suppose to be celebrated for doing normal things most decent people do. (The author many times wrote about her family not asking for money from the Kennedys like they were exercising some moral power unique to them, or the chronicles of their hard work, and farming... #Tha It was an awesome subject matter but I think the author was confused on who her audience was. People chose this book for more insight on Rosemary, not to read page after page of humble brags by the author because her family is suppose to be celebrated for doing normal things most decent people do. (The author many times wrote about her family not asking for money from the Kennedys like they were exercising some moral power unique to them, or the chronicles of their hard work, and farming... #ThatsWhatMostPeopleDo). I think it was slightly underhanded tricking the readers into the authors biography when we picked it up for Rosemary's. And PLEASE someone back me up on the ridiculous chapter where the author relates to Rosemary who had a full frontal lobotomy because she got whacked in the face with a kickball and had a rough year in high school after... that's like me stubbing my toe and claiming I understand the pain of an amputee.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

    I couldn't even finish this ridiculous thing but I have to write a review and express my utter disappointment at it. It is poorly written, poorly organized, and even more poorly researched. To start, the writing and tone read like an extended high school essay, as though this book was meant for young readers rather than intelligent adults (a possibility I had to stop and consider when I was reading). There are also things the author states as fact that are truly nothing more than her own specula I couldn't even finish this ridiculous thing but I have to write a review and express my utter disappointment at it. It is poorly written, poorly organized, and even more poorly researched. To start, the writing and tone read like an extended high school essay, as though this book was meant for young readers rather than intelligent adults (a possibility I had to stop and consider when I was reading). There are also things the author states as fact that are truly nothing more than her own speculations and hearsay. Multiple times she states something that is in direct conflict with recorded history, such as her account of Rose Kennedy's treatment of her daughter. The author expects you to believe that Rose was a doting and loving mother who favored Rosie, completely ignoring the fact that this was a woman who shamelessly lamented in published interviews that her able-bodied sons had died, but her disabled daughter was still living. It would seem the author picked and chose only those facts which would support her version of events, or the postulations of her aunt. Even more galling is the fact that this account is quite obviously nothing more than a shameless attempt to cash in on the notoriety of the Kennedy clan and the tragic life of this member of the family in particular. Far more time is spent on the author and her family than the "Missing Kennedy" of the title whose gorgeous face graces the cover. The author simply uses her tenuous connection to this remarkable story to pull readers in to read familial histories and anecdotes. Large chunks of the book don't even feature Rosemary in any way. These sections don't even always concern the author's aunt who took care of Rosie, but the author herself or other obscure family members. If you want to read about the time the author got sick in high school, you're in luck, but if you wanted a reliable history of Rosemary and the other Kennedys, I suggest you look elsewhere.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Born in 1918, Rosemary Kennedy, the third of Joseph P. and Rose’s nine children, developed more slowly than her siblings, struggled in school, but still participated fully in family events and activities. But, at 23, when Rosemary started displaying aggressive mood swings and grew increasingly difficult, her father secretly scheduled her a lobotomy, a relatively new procedure at the time that he was told would calm down his daughter. The botched brain surgery left her only able to say a handful o Born in 1918, Rosemary Kennedy, the third of Joseph P. and Rose’s nine children, developed more slowly than her siblings, struggled in school, but still participated fully in family events and activities. But, at 23, when Rosemary started displaying aggressive mood swings and grew increasingly difficult, her father secretly scheduled her a lobotomy, a relatively new procedure at the time that he was told would calm down his daughter. The botched brain surgery left her only able to say a handful of words and incapable of taking care of herself. A tragic choice that illumimates the countries view of treating the mentally disabled as deficient, flawed people. Rosemary's condition ultimately influences JF Kennedy's many progressive attempts at improving public policy towards special needs individuals. It's difficult to read this memoir and not feel anger towards the expedient snd poorly studied decision which ultimately destroyed Rosemary's life. All done to deflect the poor image she may have set in the unforgiving, high achieving Kennedy culture. Then again, the way the new generation Kennedy clan rallied around mental health causes is both reassuring and optimistic.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Beth Nienow

    Worthwhile only for the information it provides about the decades Rosemary lived at St. Coletta's in Jefferson, Wisconsin and Sister Paulus, the nun who was her primary caregiver during those years, the author's Aunt Stella. Sister Paulus is portrayed as a capable, kind, and fun-loving person; an ideal companion for Rosemary. I would've appreciated more information about Sister Paulus and less about the author. Much less. Sorry, E K-P, your kickball head injury does not make you "just like Rosem Worthwhile only for the information it provides about the decades Rosemary lived at St. Coletta's in Jefferson, Wisconsin and Sister Paulus, the nun who was her primary caregiver during those years, the author's Aunt Stella. Sister Paulus is portrayed as a capable, kind, and fun-loving person; an ideal companion for Rosemary. I would've appreciated more information about Sister Paulus and less about the author. Much less. Sorry, E K-P, your kickball head injury does not make you "just like Rosemary." Your large (extended) Catholic family including some with well covered-up mental health issues is not "just like the Kennedys." Includes many photos, but most are blurry b/w, mostly unflattering of the older Rosemary and others, provided apparently by the Kennedys/Shrivers and the author. However, in one, a young JFK embraces Rosemary, who was still young, beautiful, stylish, and vibrant. So charming and tragic and bittersweet. Check it out from RPL or your local library if you are interested.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Cottrell

    Rosemary Kennedy, the forgotten Kennedy This definitely deserves a five star rating. It's a story I think millions of people never knew, I mean the whole story, not a name drop as it has been in so many of the Kennedy books. I grew up loving the Kennedy's story, being a foster child, I dreamed of having a family so close and loving,worts and all. They always stood by each other, though much was bad behavior, and so much tragedy they always stuck together. I was so happy in reading this book the b Rosemary Kennedy, the forgotten Kennedy This definitely deserves a five star rating. It's a story I think millions of people never knew, I mean the whole story, not a name drop as it has been in so many of the Kennedy books. I grew up loving the Kennedy's story, being a foster child, I dreamed of having a family so close and loving,worts and all. They always stood by each other, though much was bad behavior, and so much tragedy they always stuck together. I was so happy in reading this book the bond that the family made with Rosie long before she past away. She was a remarkable woman having endured such a terrible mistake, that happened so at that time of medical experiment. THIS IS A MUST A MUST READ FOR KENNEDY FANS, OR IF ONLY IN MEMORY OF ROSIE. She deserves for the world to know her story, I promise you will fall in love with her and her journey. NAMASTE Rosemary Kennedy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    The second half of the title which says "and the secret bonds of four women" is so small that one is led to believe this book is only about the Missing Kennedy, Rosemary. But it is about the author who is writing about her life and how she was involved in knowing Rosemary and about her Aunt who took care of Rosemary in an institution. I understand how a person who grew up in an underprivileged household would want to compare her life with that of a famous person- and that is what this book does. The second half of the title which says "and the secret bonds of four women" is so small that one is led to believe this book is only about the Missing Kennedy, Rosemary. But it is about the author who is writing about her life and how she was involved in knowing Rosemary and about her Aunt who took care of Rosemary in an institution. I understand how a person who grew up in an underprivileged household would want to compare her life with that of a famous person- and that is what this book does. I probably would have or would do the same. I just think it would have been better as a privately published book that the author gave to family and friends. I found it in my public library and think the selector chose it because she knew people like anything about the Kennedys. I would guess she knew it was not well written or a book to recommend.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lucia

    This book was pandering and self-indulgent. The writing style is grace-less as the author moves between her family and the Kennedy family with little transition. I'm also a bit stymied by the sub-title "Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women." The book is a memoir, not a biography. It's also unclear who the four women are...and calling the bond between them "secret" seems like reader bait. There's no secret. The author makes assumptions and draws conclusions that are, maybe, not enti This book was pandering and self-indulgent. The writing style is grace-less as the author moves between her family and the Kennedy family with little transition. I'm also a bit stymied by the sub-title "Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women." The book is a memoir, not a biography. It's also unclear who the four women are...and calling the bond between them "secret" seems like reader bait. There's no secret. The author makes assumptions and draws conclusions that are, maybe, not entirely accurate. I thought the book was a selfish attempt to capitalize on a Kennedy connection. I did enjoy the factual information about Rosemary Kenendy's life, which accounts for the one star I rated this book.

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