Symptoms of Withdrawal Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Symptoms of Withdrawal

In this memoir Christopher Kennedy Lawford details his life growing up as the son of actor Peter Lawford and Patricia Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy. Christopher details growing up as a member of the powerful political dynasty, the Kennedys of Massachusetts. From the day Christopher was born in Malibu, California in 1955 he, along with his famous family, was an object of the media's scrutiny. His mother, Christopher recalls, was a vibrant and strong willed woman, much like her father, the infamous Joe Kennedy. Christopher recalls his grandfather's devastating stroke when he was a child of seven and how it deeply impacted Joe Kennedy's health. Peter Lawford was a charismatic English actor who didn't immediately pass muster with Joseph Kennedy who tried to talk his daughter out of marrying Lawford. Christopher's childhood was marked by his mother's frequent absences due to the fact that she was in Washington, D.C. immersed in political matters. Life was idyllic when the Lawfords lived in Santa Monica on the beach. Christopher recalls Marilyn Monroe being a guest at the house and Ricky Hilton (father of Paris) being his best friend. Peter Lawford frequently brought his children to see him perform with the Rat Pack at the Sands Hotel or visit one of his movie sets. The sixties was a period of intense activity for the Kennedy brood as John F. Kennedy got the democratic nomination, runs for president and wins his bid for the presidency. Patricia Lawford Kennedy is portrayed as distant and not as deeply committed to her husband and children as she is to the larger, extended Kennedy family. November 22, 1963 resonates throughout the book and throughout the Kennedy family as an assasin's bullets murder and martyr John F. Kennedy. Christopher recounts the familys' grief, despair and depression during this terrible time. Shortly thereafter, the marriage of Peter and Patricia
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dissolved and Christopher relocated with his mother to New York city, effectively ending his California idyll. In loving detail, Christopher describes his days in Hyannisport, Massachusetts with the Kennedy clan. In particular, Christopher and David Kennedy had a close, almost brotherly relationship. Tragedy strikes again in 1968 when Robert Kennedy is felled by an assassins bullet, sending the Kennedy family into shock and grief. As Christopher goes through adolescence he begins to experiment with LSD, is sent away to boarding school and is virtually ignored by his parents. His relationship with his father at this time is almost non-existant. While Christopher is in boarding school his mother has fled to Paris with his two sisters to get away from the Kennedys. Christopher acts out at school with drinking and smoking, winding up being suspended from school. At 18 Christopher goes to California to live with his father and winds up getting a job at Universal pictures. Christopher soon realizes that his father's lifestyle is filled with drink, drugs and women. When Christopher arrives at Georgetown he finds himself getting hooked on heroin. His addiction escalates out of control and he begins hanging out at Studio 54 and indulging in all kinds of vices. When Christopher's cousin David's own drug habit spirals out of control Christopher isolates himself from his best friend so that he can continue doing drugs and not cause David to further spiral downward. Sadly, David Kennedy died of a drug overdose, serving as the catalyst for Christopher's own steps towards sobriety.
The review of this Book prepared by Sandra Calhoune

Chapter Analysis of Symptoms of Withdrawal

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Plot & Themes

job/profession:    -   the rich! Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes Phys disability/mental struggle?    -   Yes Struggle with    -   drugs Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   actor/actress/producer Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   American


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   6 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast    -   California City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles Century:    -   1960's-1970's

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   thoughtful    -   like laughing Graphic sex in book?    -   Yes If this is a kid's book:    -   Age 16-Adult Pictures/Illustrations?    -   A ton 16-20 B&W How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   26-50% of book

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Christopher Kennedy Lawford Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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