Come to the Edge
By Christina Haag
(Spiegel & Grau, Hardcover, 9780385523172, 304pp.)
Publication Date: March 29, 2011
Categories: Personal Memoirs
The Love Story of JFK Jr. and Christina Haag
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.
Christina Haag is an actress who lives in New York and Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Juilliard School.
“[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