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Finding Jackie: A Life Reinvented

Rating: 3 out of 5

"She was never going to play second fiddle, though she knew how."

Jackie. One name was all you needed. A paragon of femininity, fashion, American wifeliness and motherhood, she was also fiercely independent, the first modern First Lady. Then her husband was murdered changing her world and ours. Traumatized and exposed, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy nonetheless built a new life for herself in an America similarly haunted by upheaval. She dated and traveled relentlessly before scandalizing the world by marrying a foreigner and living abroad. Jackie's story--treated like a national soap opera and transmitted through 1960s and 1970s media--became wired into America's emotional grid. But Jackie's reinvention has been culturally erased since then. In Finding Jackie, Oline Eaton pieces it back together as the adventurer, wanderer, and woman Jackie really was. Touching down everywhere from London, Paris, the Watergate, and 1040 Fifth Avenue to Skorpios, Athens, Capri, and Phnom Penh, Finding Jackie returns Jackie's story to it's original context of a serialized drama unfurling alongside the Civil Rights movement, women's liberation, and the Vietnam War. Eaton reveals the kaleidoscopic Jackie we need now: the most celebrated, exposed, beloved, reviled, written about, and followed "star of life."

Alright so as a history major I wanted to read this one because it seemed to place Jackie in history and even provide an insight into her that was somehow missing from other narratives. However, I was slightly disappointed the whole tone of Jackie's story is very much influenced by the author's personal feelings towards Jackie. The author was very much infatuated with Jackie growing up and it shows in the way she treats her depictions of Jackie versus those who criticize Jackie or even the men in Jackie's life.

I thought the book was going to place Jackie outside of all the media portrayals of her during this time but instead it seems to focus exactly on those things. I wanted more about who she was and what she did during the years the book covered; but these instances were extremely rare honestly. It was more about what the news said about her marriage with Ari Onassis. I felt like Jackie was overshadowed in this story by all the other details the author provided. I wanted more of Jackie in this biography.

The author divides the book up into before, after, and afterlife sections. I felt like the years Jackie spent with JFK were very brief in the novel, for them to be so important, especially since the author spends a lot of time arguing all of her later behaviors later indicate PTSD from the assassination. In the after, each section is divided up by the year, and each year seems to focus on some major news headline surrounding Jackie. I just wanted more from this. I felt like the author spent a lot of time trying to paint a narrative of Jackie as some pitiful victim overwhelmed by the men in her life, and I don't think this was the case.

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