Book Review: High Hopes

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

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This book is a good introduction for young readers to the story of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

The story of Kennedy and his life and times have been told countless times in many different ways. This book takes a straightforward approach in telling of the JFK's life, from his childhood to his death. Many gory details are left out, but many are left in.

Kennedy's back problems caused by a childhood illness are not often talked about, but they are mentioned here, in order to help children understand just how hard Kennedy had to work to do the simplest things.

Much mentioned is made of John's older brother, Joe, and how John inherited the family's "pressure mantle" when Joe died fighting during World War II, the same conflict which saw John survive by his own wits and bravery after his boat (PT-109) was sunk.

The book's subtitle is "A Photobiography of John F. Kennedy," and the book does contain many powerful and priceless images, including the coconut that JFK used to communicate with his fellow soldiers after his boat was sunk; rare photos of the entire Kennedy family, both in public and behind-the-scenes; and even a LIFE magazine cover illustrating the dangers of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Pictures of and quotes from his young children are included, to give young readers a sense that he was, in many ways, just an ordinary father.

In the end, the author, Deborah Heiligman, paints JFK as a man who had high hopes, large dreams, grand ambitions, and many life lessons that shaped his vision of his country and his duty to it. As a first glimpse into the details of JFK's life or as a return to a favorite subject for adults, this book puts you right into the thick of the life of one of American history's most famous families and its first president.

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David White