When We Were the Kennedys
by Monica Wood

When We Were The KennedysBeautifully written memoir about a family in Mexico, Maine during the Kennedy era. 

Opening paragraphsIn high summer, when tourists in paneled station wagons caravanned through town on their way to someplace else, hankies pressed comically to their noses against the stench of paper being made, I sat with my friends on the stoop of Nery’s Market to play License Plate. . . .  Like most Irish Catholic families in 1963, mine had boiled dinner on Sundays after Mass and salmon loaf on Fridays.  We had pictures of Pope John and President John and the Sacred Heart of Jesus hung over our red couch . . .

Quotes from critics“A sharp, stunning portrait of a family’s grief and healing, and it also offers a refreshing lens through which to view the JFK tragedy, as his family’s loss helps the Woods feel less adrift in their own sea of anguish…Wood writes beautifully.” (The Washingtonian); “[A] marvel of storytelling, layered and rich. It is, by turns, a chronicle of the renowned paper mill that was both pride and poison to several generations of a town; a tribute to the ethnic stew of immigrant families that grew and prospered there; and an account of one family’s grief, love, and resilience.” (Maine Sunday Telegram); “A tender, plaintive…genuinely compelling depiction of family grief…a bittersweet, end-of-innocence family drama.” (Kirkus Review) 

BioBorn in Mexico, Maine to a family of devout Irish Catholics and paper mill workers, Monica Wood is the author of four works of fiction, including Pushcart prize-winning short stories.  Her nonfiction has appeared in New York Times, Oprah, and many other publications.  She lives in Portland, Maine, where she conducts a writing program for women at the Maine Correctional Center.

Award:  May Sarton Memoir award