Kirkus Reviews QR Code
JACK by Ilene Cooper

JACK

The Early Years of John F. Kennedy

By Ilene Cooper

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-525-46923-0
Publisher: Dutton

“Jack Kennedy’s life was a gift, but one that was wrapped with many strings.” John F. Kennedy was sickly, he was a dreamer, and he was a second son. It was Joe, his older brother, who was groomed to be the first Catholic president of the US. Joe was the responsible one, the one good at school, the one most likely to live his father’s dream. Jack was a practical joker, a lackadaisical student, a “boy who doesn’t get things done.” Cooper (Jewish Holidays All Year Round, not reviewed, etc.) succeeds at portraying Jack as an ordinary boy with concerns that many kids have: conflicts with an older brother, illnesses, trouble in school, competition for parents’ attention, and, finally, finding his way in life. Unfortunately, when he finally does begin to buckle down and find his way, the story is over, and the more famous events of Kennedy’s later years are sketched in the afterword. Like all good biographies, the subject is the lens through which readers learn about his times. Cooper covers much history here: the Irish potato famine, the arrival of the Fitzgerald and Kennedy families on filthy “coffin ships,” the prejudice against Irish Catholics, the Roaring Twenties, and the Great Depression. This is dependable nonfiction writing. Clear prose, numerous photographs, thorough source notes, and a solid bibliography make this a fine biography for young readers and a worthwhile addition to biography collections. (Nonfiction. 10-14)