Overview (No Spoilers):
I knew going in to reading Rosemary that the subject matter would be both sad and difficult. Similar to reading Destiny of the Republic, I struggled to remind myself throughout the book that medical knowledge and practices during the respective time periods were bordering on barbarian and cruel compared to what we know now. While I had a vague understanding what treatment were concerning individuals, which are intellectually disabled, I did not fully comprehend the challenges and stigma of shame in which the families had to face alone during this time period. Many of the social services available to individuals and patients didn’t exist back in the 1960s or 1970s. Rosemary was one of the children of the famous Kennedy family, who had an intellectual disability. This book highlighted her family’s struggle to keep her disability unknown, sending her to a multitude of schools, as well as trying to find a cure. The book leads up the devastating and terrible decision by her father to force her to undergo a lobotomy. While nothing about the family’s decision and subsequent isolation of Rosemary is excusable, the Kennedy’s transformed into one of the leading families petitioning for rights concerning the intellectually disabled, while also helping allegivate the stigma of shame surrounding disabilities. One of their earliest contributions were championing and establishing the Special Olympics. Overall, Rosemary, while being a painful read at times, is an important cautionary tale highlighting that more often than not, everything is not what it seems and every family has it vices and challenges regardless of the outside appearances.