Sara Vilkomerson
March 09, 2011 AT 05:00 AM EST

Come to the Edge

Current Status
In Season
Christina Haag

We gave it a B

Come to the Edge (out March 29) perfectly captures what it feels like to be young and in love — the giddiness, the lunacy, the madcap swings between exhilaration and despair. And if Christina Haag had written a book about a romance with someone we’d never heard of, it’d be one thing. But when the man in question is John F. Kennedy Jr., it becomes a different kind of memoir.

Haag and Kennedy met as teenagers, part of the same elite prep school crowd that considered 1970s New York a private playground (turns out the city’s a lot safer when you’re trailed by the Secret Service), and both attended Brown. Their courtship evolved over the years, flirtation mixing with friendship before they dated seriously and Haag was brought into the family’s inner circle — and seemed on the path to marrying American royalty. But their romance faltered and finally ended in 1990 after numerous separations.

The fact that Haag is a beautiful writer, and the book full of wonderfully vivid descriptions, somehow makes this glimpse into the lives of the most fiercely private family feel all the more invasive. While it’s certainly fascinating to learn about how Jackie Onassis treated her son’s girlfriend, or read about John’s jealousy, fearlessness, and grand romantic gestures, one can’t help wondering why Haag was moved to reveal these secrets now. The Kennedy family has been so exploited for so long, and by so many people, that it’s hard to separate Haag from them. And that’s the problem: Despite her elegant, even elegiac prose, her book smacks of cheap sensationalism. B

Choice Cuts
Take a peek at some of the revelations in Come to the Edge.

The day she disturbed Jackie O: ”’What were you doing there?’ [John] scolded. ‘You never, never go there between lunch and dinner.’ He said it as though it was a canon I?d grown up with, adding that I should have known better”

Room assignments at Caroline’s wedding: [Haag, a frequent guest in Mrs. Onassis’ homes, always shared a bedroom with John. But at Caroline’s wedding, for the first time ever, she was shown to a single room.] ”His mother had a theory…that his grandmother Rose’s attitude toward sex had created problems for his father, and she didn?t want that for him.”

How she found out about his marriage: ”…I was wandering through Penn Station waiting to board a train when I saw the headline…. [It] was like a small death, a vivid punctuation of an end that had already taken place.”

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