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Come to the Edge: A Memoir Hardcover – March 29, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"[A] page-turner...haunting."--Marie Claire

"The most honest, most thoughfully rendered and most memorable memoir of young love published in recent years. A remarkable work."--New York Journal of Books


"Spellbinding."--Kirkus Reviews

"Surprisingly fine...the first credible portrait of John Kennedy Jr."--Headbutler

"Incredible...Deeply personal stories of survival, redemption and loss."--More

"Lyrically written. A moving memoir. Magical."--Palm Beach Post

"A moving memoir about love and loss. A riveting read."--Southampton Press

 “[Haag] doesn’t bow to tabloid sensationalism; instead, she gently dusts off her tender, aching memories and bravely holds them to the light...Come to the Edge is about the endless, burning passion of young love—the kind that strips you bare and leaves you for dead when it’s over…The wistful story of love and ultimate loss is told with a wealth of finely wrought details that reveal both Haag’s deep sensitivity and wonder at the situation in which she has found herself; and Kennedy’s conflicted nature—the free spirit who just wants to climb mountains and ski in the Alps, who admits that he is not yet a man at 30. The book also paints a compelling portrait of the lost Manhattan of the 1970s and ’80s, a mysterious place of wealth and despair.”—Los Angeles Times

“Lyrically and precisely recaptures the frenetic ecstasy of early love.”—Washington Post

Come to the Edge perfectly captures what it feels like to be young and in love — the giddiness, the lunacy, the madcap swings between exhilaration and despair…Haag is a beautiful writer, and the book [is] full of wonderfully vivid descriptions.”—Entertainment Weekly
“John F. Kennedy Jr.’s former love offers glimpses into the last vestiges of Camelot. In actress Haag's debut memoir, readers get a front-row seat to her on-again/off-again love affair with JFK Jr., President Kennedy's eldest son. After nine years cloistered in Catholic school, the author was suddenly propelled into the glitzy world of upper-crust New York. Her sepia-toned recounting of evenings shared with an adolescent JFK Jr. are spellbinding, setting the stage for the romance soon to come. After a series of missed connections and serendipitous run-ins, the pair finally fell into sync, two young actors playing opposite one another in a play. In a revealing conversation, a young Haag informed JFK Jr. that if he forgot his lines, he need only, ‘stop, take a breath, and look into my eyes. It will ground you.’ It was sound advice, particularly from the woman JFK Jr. would later call his compass. Haag provides minute details that manage to humanize JFK Jr. in a manner the media never attempted. She recalled the ‘spaghetti he made with soy sauce’ and ‘leaping on the benches outside the Museum of Natural History’—both seemingly innocuous details, yet they offer a new look at an old figure. Equally intriguing are the author’s romanticized depictions of Jackie Onassis, the widow who could often be spotted riding her bicycle along the trails of Martha's Vineyard, ‘her head kerchiefed,’ searching the fields for birds. Despite her intimate view, Haag is careful not to exploit the Kennedy clan; instead, she simply returns them to human form. An honest, heartfelt account of love, politics and tragedy.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A piercing portrait of a vibrant, reckless, tender young man so bursting with life that nothing could contain him.”—Publishers Weekly

“We know how the story ends, of course.  Girl loses boy.  Boy loses everything.  But in this finely-drawn, indelible portrait of a friendship and love affair, Christina Haag illuminates the private world of one of our nation’s most legendary families.  Come to the Edge should be read not only for its fascinating insider’s view, but because it’s a brave, human, beautiful, wrenching memoir.”—Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion
“With unfailing grace, sensitivity, and tact, Christina Haag recreates in poignant detail her prolonged romance with John F. Kennedy Jr., who struggled to fathom the meaning of his life. The author never stoops to tabloid sensationalism or cheapens this rare glimpse into America’s royal family. However charming the hero or scenic the backdrop, the memoir is tinged with the tragic darkness that inevitably shadowed the Kennedy clan, with death and danger forever lurking just beyond camera range. Jackie Kennedy Onassis floats through the narrative as an enchanting presence who is appealing in her wisdom and bounty. This is a beautiful and, in the end, unutterably sad book about fleeting innocence, blighted hope, and the elusive nature of youthful love.”—Ron Chernow, author of Washington: A Life
 “Sensual and full of longing, Come to the Edge is a haunting, timeless love letter, a universal tale of romance. Christina Haag has crafted a delicate memoir of love for a man we think we know and lay claim to, but, in truth, she is writing about all of us: our youth, our hopes, our own first kisses and dreams of romance. From the first word, my soul leapt at recognition. Gorgeous!”—Erin Cressida Wilson, award-winning screenwriter of Secretary and Fur

"A tender tale of lost love that offers a discerning glimpse into the Kennedy family." —Fernanda Eberstadt, author of Rat and Little Money Street

From the Inside Flap

An elegy to first love, a lost New York, and a young man who led his life with surprising and abundant grace. When Christina Haag was growing up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, John F. Kennedy, Jr., was just one of the boys in her circle of prep school friends, a skinny kid who lived with his mother and sister on Fifth Avenue and who happened to have a Secret Service detail following him at a discreet distance at all times. A decade later, after they had both graduated from Brown University and were living in New York City, Christina and John were cast in an off-Broadway play together. It was then that John confessed his long-standing crush on her, and they embarked on a five-year love affair. Glamorous and often in the public eye, but also passionate and deeply intimate, their relationship was transformative for both of them. With exquisite prose, Haag paints a portrait of a young man with an enormous capacity for love, and an adventurous spirit that drove him to live life to its fullest.

A haunting book, Come to the Edge is a lasting evocation of a time and a place--of the indelible sting of the loss of young love, and of the people who shape you and remain with you, whether in person or in spirit. It is about being young and full of hope, with all the potential of your life as yet unfulfilled, and of coming of age at a moment in New York's history when the city at once held danger, magic, and endless possibilities for self-discovery. 

Rarely has a love story been told so beautifully.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; 1st edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523172
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #561,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christina Haag is an award-winning actress and the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir COME TO THE EDGE. Her book, which chronicles her long friendship and five year love affair with John Kennedy, Jr., is a People magazine and USA Today pick in paperback. She was featured on The Today Show, Entertainment Tonight, CBS Early Show, the Joy Behar Show, and Hardball with Chris Matthews, and profiled in People magazine and the Los Angeles Times. Winner of the Ella Dickey Literacy Award, her writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, and Hamptons Magazine, and she is a contributor to The Brown Reader, a new anthology from Simon and Schuster, along with Jeffrey Eugendides, Meg Wolitzer, and Marilynne Robinson.

Christina continues to work in film, theater, and television. Winner of the Dramalogue Award for Outstanding Actress, she has performed at theaters across the country, notably Arena Stage, the Goodman Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe, Theater for a New Audience, and the Geffen Playhouse. Her many television credits include ER, Heroes, Providence, Family Law, Boston Public, Law and Order, Law and Order:SVU, and leading roles in movies of the week. She stars in the upcoming feature Half-Brother. A graduate of Brown University and Juilliard, she lives in New York City and is currently working on a novel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

142 of 149 people found the following review helpful By Penny on March 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When you think about it, no one else -- none of the "other women" in John Kennedy's life (even his late wife, may she rest in peace) -- could have told this story. Ms. Haag, after all, was there from the very beginning. From those early 1970s teenage years in NY, through college days as housemates, through acting roles together and their ultimate courtship and five year romance, Haag may arguably be the only woman in the world who knew John, in his tragically too-short life, in all these myriad ways, and over so many decades.

Certainly no one could have told the story better, with more grace, more beauty, more heart.

COME TO THE EDGE is a radiant piece of work. Like all fine memoirs, it tells us something about being human: about what it's like to become vulnerable to another human being, about dreams, about coming of age, about crisis of faith -- about many of the themes that our greatest writers have tackled from time eternal. Though Haag's story is inherently a personal one, nonetheless on every page the reader has a shock of recognition from the truth and beauty of which she writes.

Haag has given us an insight into the Kennedy family, particularly John and his mother, never before seen. Never sensational, never titillating, this elegant memoir is limned in gorgeous prose that sometimes breaks your heart with its purity and insight. And the bravery with which Haag shares her own "postscript" at the end of the book will take your breath away.

A fabulous, memorable read, and a must for anyone interested in cultural history, memoir, and the sweet, vanished time that was NYC in the '60s-'80s.
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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Jane B. Wypiszynski on March 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Christina Haag has written one of the rare books about John Kennedy, Jr. which tells us more about who he was without trying to "make " it a best seller through gossip and tattling. She knew him as a best friend as well as a lover and uses her experiences with him to give his life depth of meaning and fullness. We see, through her eyes, a young teen who grows into an unsure young adult who matures into a profoundly kind and sensitive man. He has humor as well as a temper, he has doubts as well as endless courage. She also treats his mother as a woman of grace and elegance, but a warm and empathic person---these two Kennedys, in particluar, don't usually get treated with such convincing courtesy. I have read all the Kennedy materials....I have only admired a few books. But I truly loved this one. Ms Haag can really, really write. She has a sophisticated style that seems effortless. She has years of journals which helped her recreate this love story, and I am so glad she did so. This book is a tribute to a romance which soared, a man who took the risk of love, a woman who was wise enough to celebrate being drenched in his affection, and the aftermath which breaks the reader's heart. Thank you for sharing the glow with us, and telling the tale so eloquently.
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146 of 160 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Kornbluth TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The longtime girlfriend of John F. Kennedy, Jr. --- a woman he should have married, and didn't --- writes a book about their long friendship, glorious romance and fraught break-up.

On the plus side: Her memory is buttressed by decades of journals, and she makes a good-girl's effort to tell the truth.

On the minus side: She's an actress, that is, a woman most at home when not herself. And he was the stud muffin of a generation, an athlete dying young; you do not write ill of such a man.

What are the odds that Christina Haag could write a better-than-average memoir about her life with John Kennedy?

In fact, Christina Haag has written a surprisingly fine book.

They met as teenagers, in that special Upper East Side hothouse of private schools and privilege. They were not exactly equals --- her father was the son of a railroad foreman, and his father was...well, you know. But he was skinny and exuberant, fond of flipping water balloons out the windows of Fifth Avenue apartments, and she was dark and poetic, a budding actress. They hung out, walking through the park at night, Secret Service agents following.

They both go to Brown, where they share a house. (Another roommate is Christiane Amanpour, then known as "Kissy.") Like dogs, they travel in packs; they see a lot of one another, but romance never ignites. After graduation, Christina takes up with a fellow actor --- Bradley Whitford, later a mainstay on "The West Wing" --- and John bounces from woman to woman.

And then they connect.

Yes, she writes that first kiss like a romance novelist, but why not? They'd known each other for almost a decade, the pent-up curiosity was huge, and --- not a small point --- that kiss was electrifying. It sealed the deal.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Carol (Wilmington DE) on April 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a story of a boy and a girl who met as young teens, later fell in love, and changed each other's lives forever. As noted in the book, Christiane Amanpour described John Kennedy as "an ordinary boy in extraordinary circumstances." Christina Haag paints a vivid picture of their time together, before, during and after their romance. A picture of the ordinary boy, and the way in which those extraordinary circumstances shaped the man and affected their relationship.

This book touched me in ways I can't even begin to describe. I was nearly 11 years old when President Kennedy was assassinated, old enough to witness, to understand and to mourn. I saw the three year old John salute his father's casket and, along with the rest of the world, I watched him and his sister, Caroline, grow up in the public eye. I felt compassion for the man who could not walk down the street, or fail a bar exam without starting a media frenzy.

Christina has given John the humanity, dignity and vulnerability which was never attributed to him by the press. She depicts him as an intelligent, gifted, fun-loving and adventurous man with a great capacity to love. Flawed, as we all are, but not just the "hunk" he was all too often depicted as. This aspect of the book, the fact that Christina told their story with objectivity, was as important to me as the story of the love they shared, a love that was both exhilarating and heartbreaking. A love so strong, that John continues to make his presence known to her, years after his death . . . through an old newspaper clipping falling out of a book that had been tucked away for years, a little girl spinning and singing "Do you know where John Kennedy is?" and in dreams. I firmly believe that one day, when Christina needs it most, the lost compass will turn up.

When I came to the last page, I couldn't help but wonder "What if?" Read the book. You won't regret it.
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