Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

Date: 1/26/17
Location: The Harp

We quickly learned that “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter” was one of our most stirring books. The topic wasn’t exactly in all of our interest sets, but it certainly got us all thinking. Especially in the social and political climate of today, we had a lot to discuss, including the treatment of individuals with mental illnesses, the legitimacy of money and power, and, of course, political pull.

The biggest questions this book raised were around Rosemary’s actual mental state. How disabled was she, really? While the lobotomy was, more than likely, not at all necessary, were Rosemary’s mental capacities as diminished as her father seemed to think – or was she simply a little slower to develop than the rest of her siblings? We tended to agree that, if she had never had the lobotomy, she probably would have lived a fairly functional life – or, at least, a life not nearly as diminished as it was following the surgery.

As the Kennedy family is always a fascinating one to discuss, we spent a lot of time talking about her siblings and parents. We focused particularly on her mother, Rose, whom we felt was too wrapped up in her own self-image and social status to truly care for her disabled daughter. There was also a distinct favoritism by her parents toward the boys in the family, which made us wonder how Rosemary would have been treated had she been a male child with similar mental disabilities. Ugh, the patriarchy.

Overall, we all really liked the book and it opened our minds to how different things were, even just 75 years ago. While lobotomies seem like a creepy, distant thing of the past, we can’t ignore the fact that they were real and caused very real damage to people and their families. If we, as a group, could ask for anything more out of this book, it would be to know more about Rosemary. This, unfortunately, is greatly limited due to the Kennedy family’s misinformed and sometimes insensitive treatment of their daughter and sister. So, I guess we just got mad.

Also, the Kennedy family should stay off transportation and stop being insensitive pricks. #Kennedycurse?

Dream Cast

We always love to discuss our dream movie casting for each book we read, though this one was hard since the dream cast is probably the real Kennedy family. So, instead, we discussed which characters we would have been from the book. There was a lot of scrambling for the role of Kick, while we chose JFK (Laurel) and “a Shriver” (Kaitlin) to mix things up.

The Harp

The Harp was a great place for our meeting! The host and our server were gracious and when we got…impassioned…the other diners didn’t seem to be too disturbed. Also, delicious food!

-Kaitlin and Laurel

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