Secrets. We all have them. Some more than others, others darker than most. We all love them. I was know as the “Secret Keeper” in high school, something that has stuck with me to this day. People have this need to tell me everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, and then tell me I can’t tell anyone. Not a problem, secrets are always safe with me. In high school I knew everything, it was hard coming up with something to tell me that I hadn’t already heard, but everyone knew I wouldn’t talk. Once a secret went in me, it never came back out. If you ask me not to tell anyone (or even if it’s implied) then I will not tell a soul. Which is probably the reason I was drawn to the book I plan on talking about today.
I love books but I can’t read. Let me clarify. I am dyslexic and therefore reading is a chore for me. I can’t “read” words. You give me a word I have never seen and heard together, then I can’t read it. I can’t sound it out and I can’t comprehend it. This doesn’t mean I’m stupid, in fact the opposite, I was one of the smartest in my class. I have learned to adapt and overcome. I have learned to memorize. If I see a word and someone says it for me then I’ve successfully learned that word. If I’ve heard a word my whole life but never seen it written out…well, I have plenty of examples of how that went and it wasn’t good. So for the record, I can’t “read” but I have learned how to overcome this.
With that said, I’ll say it again…I love books!!! But I feel stupid because I’m still in the “young adult” section. I haven’t expanded my vocabulary enough to hit most of the adult books, I can’t read them. I am a Harry Potter kid, those books are the reason I started reading. I felt so connected to the story and a part of it. JK Rowling sure has a knack for pulling the reader in! After that I started reading everything I could get my hands on! I have an entire bookshelf overflowing with books and I can’t wait to have a house so I can have an office/library full of book! That’s my plan, along with a handful of children to bring into this world. I can’t wait to have kids! But that’s a different story for another time. Today’s story is about secrets, specifically one involving a great President of this nation, Mr. John F Kennedy.
My grandparents still talk about the kind of President he was, a person that everyone liked. I love hearing stories about the past, whether it’s our nations history, stories of the world, or just someone telling about their past, I love to listen. After JFK’s death it became known that he loved his women and he loved to have a lot of them in his life. There are stories, newspaper articles, books, and even some movies on the subject, but there is one book in particular that caught my attention. This book just grabbed me and pulled me in, much like the Harry Potter series. I started this book yesterday afternoon and finished it early this morning. It was so good I couldn’t put it down and fall asleep. If you’re into history, untold stories, secrets, love affairs, or just enjoy reading I think you too will enjoy this book. What is this book you ask…
“In the summer of 1962, nineteen-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived by train in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. The Kennedy Administration had reinvigorated the capital and the country—and Mimi was eager to contribute. For a young woman from a privileged but sheltered upbringing, the job was the chance of a lifetime. Although she started as a lowly intern, Mimi made an impression on Kennedy’s inner circle and, after just three days at the White House, she was presented to the President himself.
Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next eighteen months.
In an era when women in the workplace were still considered “girls,” Mimi was literally a girl herself—naive, innocent, emotionally unprepared for the thrill that came when the President’s charisma and power were turned on her full-force. She was also unprepared for the feelings of isolation that would follow as she fell into the double life of a college student who was also the secret lover of the most powerful man in the world. Then, after the President’s tragic death in Dallas, she grieved in private, locked her secret away, and tried to start her life anew, only to find that her past would cast a long shadow—and ultimately destroy her relationship with the man she married.
In 2003, a Kennedy biographer mentioned “a tall, slender, beautiful nineteen-year-old college sophomore and White House intern, who worked in the press office” in reference to one of the President’s affairs. The disclosure set off a tabloid frenzy and soon exposed Mimi and the secret that she had kept for forty-one years. Because her past had been revealed in such a shocking, public way, she was forced, for the first time, to examine the choices she’d made. She came to understand that shutting down one part of her life so completely had closed her off from so much more.
No longer defined by silence or shame, Mimi Alford has finally unburdened herself with this searingly honest account of her life and her extremely private moments with a very public man. Once Upon a Secret offers a new and personal depiction of one of our most iconic leaders and a powerful, moving story of a woman coming to terms with her past and moving out of the shadows to reclaim the truth.”
This book was so well written and interesting to hear. It’s hard to believe that with so many people around this would be possible, but I have no doubt in my mind that it really did happen. Part of what also drew me in was this is an age gap story as well, however it shows that there are bad sides to age gap relationships. In this book Mimi talks about 3 particular instances where President Kennedy used his age and power over her, but she finally stood up to him. It’s also interesting to see a different side of the President, a side that very few people know and talk about. I think you will enjoy this book. It was a quick read for me, someone who can’t read, so you can probably finish it in a few hours. If you do read it please let me know what you think.
“I kept this secret with near-religious discipline for more than forty years, confiding only in a handful of people, including my first husband. I never told my parents, or my children. I assumed it would stay my secret until I died.
It didn’t.” -quoted from Once Upon a Secret, Chapter 1