“Come to the Edge” is the true-life love story between the author Christina Haag and John F Kennedy Jr. The story of their unfolding relationship as it moves from friendship to something greater than friends is beautifully told, and as a reader you are caught gasping between discovering a glimpse of what life would be like living and loving within the Kennedy clan, and the fact that you already know how this story is going to end. And you will find this book to be especially compelling if you happened to be in your teens or 20’s during the 1980’s and were infatuated with the handsome John F Kennedy Jr, as I was. I took great pleasure back then following his life as it played out in the media (and most notably for me, in People magazine!)
The reviews that I read about “Come to the Edge” proclaim it as a beautiful story about young love. But I felt that the book was more than just a story about two 20-somethings in love….. I saw it as a window into what it would be like to fall in love with one of the most famous bachelors in the world. Reading about what he was really like around his friends and with people who knew him, gaining some insight as to how it would feel to read about your boyfriend in the press never knowing if what you read was true. Seeing what it was like for him to grow up in such an infamous family- with all of the closeness and tragedies that it is known for. But the best part of reading this book, is that you got a sense of all of these things in a very non-sensationalist way. It was like having a good girlfriend share with you her personal thoughts and dreams about this relationship, without it ever becoming gossipy.
Christina Haag shares so many of her personal stories about her life and adventures with John. One of my favorite parts of the book was when she talked about their very first vacation away together a couple. They decided to visit a place that Christina had read about, but that neither of them had ever been to…. Cumberland Island, GA. She tells us about how they explored the island and how much this place meant to her… and as I was reading it, my heart was sinking a bit…. because I remembered very vividly that this was where John married Carolyn Bassette. And all I could think was, “How could he marry someone else in the very place that he discovered with Christina?” It hurt me to read about this… I can only imagine how the author must have felt.
But as much as I enjoyed “Come to the Edge”, there was something missing in how the story felt, because this book was written by the author more than 20 years after her relationship with John ended. She wrote the book as a grown-up woman reflecting on a younger time in her life… which is a very different perspective than if the book was written while she was experiencing this relationship. Also, as she writes the book, she does so with the knowledge of how everything ends… that John’s life was cut short tragically in a plane crash in an aircraft that he was piloting in 1999. So in some ways, I felt that the book was written with too much reserve and too much distance in her emotions…. it’s not that I can’t feel her love for John or the thrill of their relationship… but more that I was distracted at times by the reflective quality of her memories.
And I really wanted to know why Christina Haag wrote the book now. Is it that she felt comfortable telling the story since both John and Mrs. Onassis are now deceased? Or is it part of how she is making sense and peace with her past, having recently faced breast cancer? Perhaps that question will be answered tonight at the #Gr8Books twitter party at 9pm EST hosted by Andrea from GreatThoughts, where we will be discussing “Come to the Edge” with the author Christina Haag.
If you have read “Come to the Edge” I hope you’ll join us for tonight’s Twitter chat!