Come to the Edge

Come to the Edge

3.7 73
by Christina Haag

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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

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Stifling pathos and loss overshadow this heartfelt memoir by actress Haag about her youthful years of friendship and romance with John F. Kennedy Jr. Both born in 1960, though Haag was some months older, the two attended elite private schools in mid-1970s' New York City and, trailed by Kennedy's Secret Service agents, frequented the same parties and bars as teenagers. Haag went to Brearley, Kennedy to Collegiate, and they both ended up at Brown University and even shared a large house. Haag's serious acting career both attracted Kennedy—a fledgling actor and co-star with her in the small theater production of Winners in 1985—and distanced him, as he preferred his girlfriends to hop on a plane at a moment's notice and plunge into vigorous, sometimes perilous physical activities. Kennedy's abrupt death in a plane accident in 1999 throws a poignant sweetness over such insignificant details as trips they took together and dialogue exchanged; the two were gradually pulled apart in late 1990 by his involvement with Daryl Hannah and other women. Haag proceeds in her narrative with an elusive earnestness, trying to capture the deep connection between the lovers despite the pull of his celebrity, his mother, and their separate pursuits. What remains is a piercing portrait of a vibrant, reckless, tender young man so bursting with life that nothing could contain him. (May)
From the Publisher
 “[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

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

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Come to the Edge 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
Lovestoryophile More than 1 year ago
COME TO THE EDGE has surprising universal appeal and its emotional effect was rather unexpected. Quite profound, really. The part that grabbed me -- so much so, that I let out a gasp then sobbed aloud -- was towards the end, about Big Sur/cancer. Not that I didn't attach to the love story. I did --it was so easy to adore -- but the chapter "After" (I think) communicated so accutely how it feels to be in your mid-forties at the time when you begin to realize that you (and those who walk with you) are not invincible and could vanish in a flash. On another level, CTTE felt Victorian -- in a good way-- its chaste depth was so satisfying. And, like a turn of the century novel, it transported me back to another time and place that felt far away but really wasn't. GOD. The descriptions of feeling and form were so well drawn -- who was it that said, "Art is in the details"? -- an exquisitely sculpted memory of someone who loved the writer so deeply and meant so much. It must have healed her in some way to lay it down on paper. For us, the masses, it will entertain and inspire. But for those who knew him well, it will bring him back, and to me that is the closest thing to writerly magic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Come to the Edge is an absolutely beautifully written memoir by Christina Haag. Yes, it happens to involve John Kennedy, Jr. But above that, this book presents a story of a romance that was full of love, trust, great intimacy and growth. It is a book that pulls one along, revealing the joys, and trials and tribulations, of a 5-year romance in uncanny detail, giving the story great traction, while making Haag's relationship with the son of the President of the United States, who sought to discover his own identity in the world, come alive. In so many ways, this book is universal. It's a story of young love and hopes, of the things that connect and divide us, of our search for meaning and purpose, and, importantly, of the power of our connection with the natural world. Bravo to Christina Haag for a job very, very well done.
JKos More than 1 year ago
And I don't have the words to add to what's already been written here. Just buy it and read it and take from it all that it has to offer.
SeanDell More than 1 year ago
At a time when we're all in need of something uplifting to read, along comes Christina Haag's wonderful, and beautifully written memoir of her five-year love affair with JFK Jnr. The timing could not be better, nor could the book. It is sweet without being cloying, effortlessly funny, full of rich detail, and redolent of a previous, seemingly more innocent, time in New York City life. Come to the Edge deserves to be a huge success.
KS-1 More than 1 year ago
Christina Haag has written an achingly beautiful memoir. Her respectful portrait of John Kennedy not only reveals him as a flesh-and-blood human being but at the same time captures the larger-than-life aspects of his story. Christina tells of how their paths wove themselves together and apart during their childhoods in New York and beyond, culminating in an intense, five year love affair -- what John called the longest courtship ever. Also of great interest is Christina's portrait of John's mother, whom she obviously admired and adored. Their friendship continued even after the affair with John was over. But this book is more than all that. It is a delicate tale of coming of age, of first love, that transcends its connection to a famous family.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Christina Haag spent five years in a romantic relationship with John F. Kennedy Jr. She recounts these years in her tender and honest memoir, Come to the Edge. While a memoir about loving one of the most famous Americans could be lurid and gossipy, this book is remarkable in its restraint. Haag tells a story that is relatable to many women; she loved a man, thought they were headed towards spending the rest of their lives together, but in the end, it didn't work out. She begins with a childhood filled with games and loving Dark Shadows and Lost in Space. (I loved those too, but wanted to be Judy, not Mrs. Robinson.) Her first remembrance of being aware of JFK Jr. was seeing his photo on the wall at a barber shop. She attended Sacred Heart School with his sister Caroline, but they weren't friends. As teenagers, their social circles intersected as they attended many of the same parties. He had the reputation as a playboy, even then breaking hearts, and friends warned Christina to stay away from him, which she did. They both attended Brown University, and shared a house with three other students, one of whom was future journalist Christiane Amanpour. They became closer friends then, and that section of the book sheds much light on Kennedy. Haag tells of answering the phone one day, and a man on the other end threatened to kill Kennedy. She became justifiably upset, and when the roommates finally found John, he brushed it off. It was something he lived with, but he did not let it rule his life; he lived life to the fullest. Haag became an actress, and appeared in an off-off Broadway play with Kennedy where they had a romantic kiss that deepened their feelings for each other. He wanted to be an actor, but knew his mother would not accept it, so he went to law school. The portrayal of Jackie shows a different side to her than most people know. She was genteel yet strong, kind, wise, and she had a bit of wicked sense of humor. She liked Christina, seeing a bit of herself in the young woman whom her son loved. After they broke up, Jackie tried to help Christina get an acting job, and even sent her a note a month before she passed away. Haag does an admirable job of writing this memoir while still respecting the privacy of people involved. Sometimes when you read memoirs with famous people in them, it can feel like reading The National Inquirer. Not so with Come to the Edge. Even when she has a right to her anger, such as when he married his wife Carolyn on Cumberland Island, a place that he and Christina discovered together and spent a romantic vacation, she doesn't write of how much of betrayal that was. She describes the lovely time they spent there, and then of hearing that that was where he got married. She makes her point subtly, letting the reader come to her own conclusion how that would feel. Kennedy comes to life in this book, especially in this passage: "We had been together more than a year, and there were things I had learned. He was chivalric and competitive, puritan and sensual. He wore Vetiver and Eau Sauvage, and when he didn't, his skin was like warm sun. He loved to cook but burned his food, and he slept with the windows open. I wore his sweaters, he ate off my plate, and we spent most nights at his apartment on Ninety-first Street. And if he was in a mood and I wanted something, a small thing- a light turned on, a fan turned off- I found that if I said the opposite, it worked like a charm
Andi-TX More than 1 year ago
A nice love story.
kennedygirl More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the most beautiful i have ever read. It is written with such honesty and grace that it draws the reader in from the very first page. You feel as if you are right alongside John and Christina going through life together. If you are fascinated with the Kennedys as i am, this book will be one you will cherish. It provides an inside personal look as to what John was like in everyday life and as a normal boy and man, rather then what tabloids made him out to be. Even if you are not a Kennedy historian, this book is one of the most beautiful love stories of all time, and i think everyone can take away something in how to live their life with grace, fun and humility. Couragio!
Dev3 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Read it in two days and literally rolled in the language and experience of Ms. Haag, who met JFK Jr. as a young girl, and describes her relationship with him after a very long courtship. There were many things that were stellar about this book. First of all, Ms. Haag is a good writer. The book waxes poetic at time, and is definitely written by a woman with a mind and a heart. Secondly, she gives us such a sensitive look into what life was like for the child of the Camelot era and how he progressed through life which unfortunately ended way too soon. With insights into John Jr, and the meetings with Jackie O, we feel like we know them through her writing and her eyes. And we like them. Except perhaps for Aunt Ethel. There are so many personal little tidbits, such as John giving Christina his gloves on a cold night when she doesn't have any that she shares with us. She also illustrates his adventurous spirit as well as some emotions he felt free to share with her. Little touches, like him touching his father's rocking chair in his apartment.I could go on and on but you have to read the book. The Cumberland experience was extremely potent for me as he later married another woman there. Also, this book (for me) plugs deeply into the psyche of how hard it was to be him and yet be a man. There are nuances of what he struggled with emotionally just being a Kennedy and how Christina became his "compass". Their romance and exchanges are crystallized in this book and leaves one fluttering with the beauty and the revelation, and the sorry perhaps of "If only he had...". A splendid read and an absolutely lovely book. Romance and decency still live.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this book. It is a beautiful love story of two young adults. Nevermind that the book is about JFK Jr. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good story, especially if the story is true.
RobertY More than 1 year ago
This love story is not only deeply rendered, completely transportive and beautifully painted, it is also a true story, told with raw emotion, unflinching honesty, and it revolves around a man few knew well, certainly none as well as our author did, in so many ways. There are lessons in love from our earliest days, the dance of insecurity and desire, and the abandon of being led by an adventurous soul into places one never thought possible. It is a love story told both shyly and boldly, with such courage and beauty, that in truth, laying it down before finishing it felt like a crime of the heart. It is the kind of thing we see in films believing it could only be fiction, however here, it is shimmering, naked, down-to-the-breathless-core truth. Brava to the gifted author. I encourage you to READ THIS BOOK! Your heart will thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book and so much more than I expected. Ms. Haag takes you on an intimate journey that allows you to share her love and friendship with John. She has a beautiful style of writing and it makes you long to turn the page. You will laugh, cry, and wish they could have worked it out. A beautiful love story.
EastSideGirl More than 1 year ago
Brava to Christina Haag for crafting this searingly beautiful memoir. She has taken what could easily have been a sensationalized story of her love affair with JFK Jr. and turned it into a literary greatness. I haven't been this touched by a memoir since James Salter's "Burning The Days."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the book and the story. I liked Christina Haag's detailed meaningful writing style. I would have enjoyed the book a little more if it was written chronologically, but overall it is very good book that keeps you thinking about the story.
Lisa Timms More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this tale of young love. Anyone who experienced the lifecycle will find this story touching and sweet. At times the sequence of events was hard to follow because her recollections are not chronological. The story is considerate of the Kennedy family. It's a quick read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Christina Haag's "Come to the Edge" reminds me of one of my favorites, Ann Patchett's "Truth and Beauty." Both of these memoires are ostensibly about someone young and famous who lived intensely and died tragically. Told with a clarity that sears you to the narrative, for me, these stories have much more to say about the storytellers - and to us - their readers. The purpose of neither of these books is to take you over the abyss. Arguably the authors' both write (too) safely from the sidelines. Yet these are books you want a paper copy of - because sitting on your bookshelf they remind you of the experience of reading it - and of experiences that cut to the heart your own life. "Come to the Edge" is an achingly beautiful, beautifully written story. Read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Come to the Edge was thoughtful, romantic and kind. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book!  Beautifully written love story told with some great character insights, retrospective thoughts, and captivates  the readers emotions!!   Must read!! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never in recent memory has a story brought me such a strong sense of time and place as Christina Haag's Come To The Edge. I bought the book in anticipation of learning things I hadn't known about John Kennedy Jr., which I absolutely did. What I didn't expect was to connect so much with Christina's story- from her Sacred Heart schooling to her close bond with her father; her college days as a thoughtful, free spirit; and the years following when she and John finally became a couple and came of age together in New York. NYC itself is another character in the book, and although I've never visited, thanks to Christina's loving and unsparing descriptions I have such a vivid picture of the intriguing, fun, colorful place it was in the 70s and 80s. Her recounting of other places (Cumberland Island, the Kennedy family's homes, Brown University in their college days, even the restaurants & bars they frequented) are equally vivid and inspire one to visit them all. Christina's writing is poetic, honest, and clear- the kind of writing that begs to be read aloud, underlined, earmarked, re-read. After finishing Come To The Edge, I can truly say that I am much more familiar with John Kennedy as a person, which feels like a gift. My only regret is that there aren't more chapters in the special relationship of this very special couple. But then, in the words of Heraclitus, "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." Instead it stays crystallized in the past- a tribute to what was, and what could have been- much like my own story, and so many other people's. Thank you, Christina, for sharing your story with the world- and for all the ways in which it helped me reflect upon my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am an avid reader, and though I am in my 20s, and previously knew quite little about the life of JFK jr.,  I cannot remember the last time I so thoroughly relished a book this much.  Christina Haag's writing is so vivid, so poetic, I had to force myself to put the book down only to make the story last longer.  While it is a memoir, it doubles as a romance novel that could easily take down The Notebook any day.  I absolutely got lost in her memories, and am dying to share this with my closest friends.  Each chapter is written with such delicacy, and heart... truly, this story will stick with me, I know that for sure.  You can certainly read overviews and summaries if you wish, but I picked this up knowing very little about what was in store.  I assure you, you will not be disappointed.  (...and as an added bonus: bring it to the gym! I swear I ran and biked longer than ever before while reading this because I kept insisting, "ok.. just one mor
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Crumj More than 1 year ago
Its a good Read. Good Story.
JayneMartin More than 1 year ago
... and shall remain forever imprinted there. With writing as intricate and exquisite as finely-woven lace, Ms. Haag weaves a powerful story of a great and passionate love with a figure whose life was chronicled endlessly from the day he was born and yet remained a mystery to most of us long after his tragic death. The book succeeds on many levels: On a personal note, like so many of my generation who also fell in love with the three-year-old John-John, watched him grow, and invested in him the hopes and dreams that we'd also invested in his father and his uncle, Haag's generous telling their personal relationship for me, at least, finally lays bare the man and the mystery that was John F. Kennedy, Jr. I could never understand why he chose to go up in that plane on that fateful day. Now, although still sadly, it makes perfect sense. As a love story, one could not possibly ask for more. Haag's own story of growing up in New York, her childhood intersecting with that of John's from grade school through college and beyond, beautifully captures a city and a time of that would set the stage for a relationship born of friendship and the innocence of youth with its belief that, with love, anything is possible. As a story of adventure, the element of risk is detailed in the telling of their many harrowing adventures together, when John would literally beckon Haag to "come to the edge," times when she would risk not only her heart for this man. Haag is a remarkable writer, as well as a remarkable woman. I loved every beautiful and lovingly chosen word of this very special book. Thank you, Christina.