Jell-O and Jackie O

Jell-O and Jackie O

by T. D. Arkenberg


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Greek Isles, Capri, the Riviera, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Andy Warhol, Twiggy; people and places that conjure up the chic world of the jet set. To Tad Aldenburg, a child who discovers Jackie Kennedy on the cover of LIFE magazine, beautiful people provide escape from a world of canned soup, bickering parents, and Jell-O. Tad's fascination with Jackie begins just as his mother announces the return of her younger sister. His aunt's free spirit and globetrotting lifestyle open old wounds while secrets promise to cut even deeper. When Tad greets his aunt, he can't believe his eyes. She's torn from the same magazine pages as Jackie. The uncanny likeness sparks his imagination. We first meet Tad as an adult approaching his thirty-ninth birthday. After years of running from love, he may have found romance with Mike, a handsome CPA. But a ten-year age difference and suspicions planted by his over-protective mother and petulant brother stir anxieties. Can he accept the love that Mike offers? Temptation and doubt threaten his happiness, testing lessons learned in childhood. Tad awakens to news that a plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. is missing. Stung by the recent deaths of his father and aunt, the unfolding Kennedy tragedy catapults Tad back to his youth. Could that turbulent journey help him find a path forward? Capturing the glamour and calamity of an era that includes the rise of Jackie Onassis into an international icon, Jell-O and Jackie O was a 2013 semifinalist in the prestigious Faulkner-Wisdom literary competition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781478746003
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Publication date: 12/08/2014
Pages: 314
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.75(d)

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Jell-O and Jackie O 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the ride back to the 1960's. The author did a great job of weaving historical events into the family's story, effortlessly.   The family drama is real.  Everyone's life is a mixture of humor, sadness, success and tragedy.   While serious at times, this was an overall very fun read. A great second book from this author.  
AJanssen More than 1 year ago
Be prepared to be transported to the sixties! T.D. Arkenberg creates a look into a world with rich characters and plot turns that keep you turning pages. All the characteris made such an impression on me. Near the end of the book, I was mad at Ver and Kayzie, rooting for Tadd, and hoping his mother would find her well deserved inner peace. In short: a beautiful book!
sam019 More than 1 year ago
While reading this book, you will feel like you are in the midst of this family drama and develop a closeness to the characters. While it is both funny and serious, it keeps you interest cover to cover and entertains! A great 2nd novel form this author and one you won't want to miss!!
GiaC1 More than 1 year ago
When I finished reading Jell-O and Jackie O, I felt I had said good-bye to some dear friends. I truly cared for these people - always a sign of a well-written book and of well-rounded characters. The book is about family relationships; a subject matter that no one can ever say they have mastered; we are all permanently on a steep learning curve in this area and this book helps us along the way. I strongly recommend you read it too.
S_Hines More than 1 year ago
Arkenberg recreates America's most iconic decade through the eyes of engaging characters whose turbulent-triumphant lives echo the times perfectly. Written with wit and wisdom, Jell-O and Jackie O keeps the reader eagerly turning pages until the end.
Huestudio More than 1 year ago
A Glamorous Read! With a gloriously designed, colorful cover evoking the glamour of days gone by, to the well-written dialogue contained within, T.D. Arkenberg carefully and skillfully takes readers on “a ride of a dysfunctional lifetime” as young Tad Aldenburg comes of age with great imagination! Poignant, yet full of grand wonder, the beloved and sometimes painful 1960’s collides with the 1990’s to illuminate dysfunction, discovery and drama, but ultimately arrives with the acceptance, love and understanding of others. Jell-O and Jackie O is decadently wonderful, in every way!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!  TD Arkenburg tells the captivating story of Tad Aldenburg, the youngest of three children growing up in a dysfunctional, middle class family in the Chicago suburbs during the 1960s.  Tad must deal with the snipes and shoves of his older siblings and the anger and frustration of his mother who insists the family live life “as expected” rather than as embraced. Tuna casseroles, jell-o and uncomfortable family gatherings are the stuff of everyday life.  Tad magically escapes from this world when he discovers the beautiful and  glamorous Jackie O on the cover of Life Magazine.  He is fascinated by her and the jet set life she leads. Tad’s discovery coincides with the unexpected return home of  Aunt Ver, his mother’s sister.  To his surprise and delight,  Aunt Ver is beautiful and vivacious, and comes from a world of glamour and travel, just like Jackie O!  Tad is captivated and thrilled but Aunt Ver’s return begins a chain of events that turns his family’s world upside down.   TD Arkenberg skillfully weaves together the world of young Tad and the world of Tad as an adult, coming to grips with his fears and worries about his romance with Mike, a handsome and fun-loving CPA, who is 10 years younger his junior.  On a weekend getaway with Mike, Tad hears of the crash and search for John F Kennedy Jr’s plane.  He’s immediately transported back to his youth and his fixation on Jackie O and all things Kennedy, and the painful push and pull of his family life.  Through his journey back to childhood, Tad seeks the path forward in his life with Mike.  TD Arkenberg’s story is beautifully written and his vivid characters come alive on the page. You’re there with Tad and his family and you keenly feel their frustrations, anger, happiness and sorrow.  I read this book in a day and a half--   once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down!  I highly recommend Jell-O and Jackie O and look forward to TD Arkenberg’s next novel.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly entertaining book about a young lad growing up in the 60's. I give it 5 stars! The cover depicts the tale perfectly.
PhyllisShearer More than 1 year ago
JELL-O AND JACKIE O is Todd Arkenberg’s second novel.  His first, FINAL DESCENT, is the eye-opening business fiction book that spills the beans on the gritty underside of the airline industry.   In JELL-O AND JACKIE O, we’re treated to a story of living in one of the more incredible decades in American history—not just examining the past, but understanding how it affected one typical American family, the Aldenburgs, in suburban Chicago—breadwinner father, homemaker mother, strong ties to a church, two to three children, etc.  Of course, today there is no “typical” family.  But what was it like when it existed?  And how did it fare during the turbulent 1960s, where values, standards and beliefs changed before our eyes. This novel, answers those questions.   “I claim the 1960s,” Tad, the narrator, says opening the novel.  “My decade was shiny, sleek, daring and fast—traits reflected in its automobiles, airplanes, music and fashion…”  Referring to himself as a “windy-city mutt,” he identifies his one-of-a-kind journey, musing “…it’s hard to imagine that ten years contained so much.”  These were years that accelerated “with Mustang speed,” and left their indelible mark.  As the nation changed gears from the1950s, the 1960s giving us Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, Gay Rights, and the Women’s movement—an age of enlightenment came to be, its backdrop loaded with rock music blasting with outrage.  Along with outrage Tad the narrator says came, “rebellion against intolerance and conformity [that] kindled a world primed for fire.”   This is no cut-and-dried historical romp through the 1960s.  It’s more a thoughtful story of a middle class family winding their way through everyday family problems—grievances, self-doubts, disappointments, and unresolved feuds—plus sadly, a few tragedies.  Like the Kennedys.  And Jackie, who for Tad, “captivated the world with style, flair and youth…” a woman Tad reports, “lifted me above my unremarkable world.”    If the title, JELL-O AND JACKIE O, seems to offer two opposing ideas, stay tuned.  On the Jell-O side stand Tad’s mother, Jeanne, the devoted housewife and mother.  On the Jackie O side stands her sister, Tad’s Aunt Ver, who emulates Jackie in all things glamour and appearance, but doesn’t score high as a mother.  The two sisters are poles apart and their clashes occur frequently.     The novel glides smoothly back and forth between the 1960s to the 1990s with Tad’s childhood reflections, as he grows older, they turn on issues about concealing his sexual identity.  “I locked fantasies, questions and doubts away in my mind where they incubated in isolation,” he says.   Years later in the 1990s, when he’s a thirty-nine year old gay man, he’s still obsessed with the Kennedys, this time with John Kennedy, Jr.  He’s grief stricken when John Jr. dies in a  plane crash.  Here we meet people we think we’ve met before, who at first glance we recognize, but later when all the colors fill in, our vision clears and we see them from behind their imposed curtain.  For instance, there’s Tad’s family who are more than a God fearing-Catholics-macaroni-and-cheese-eating-fish-sticks-on-Friday kind of people.  Then there’s Tad’s Aunt Ver, all showy pretenses in flashy cars, designer clothes, the kind Jackie O characterized that altered the world of glamour.  We listen to Jeanne, Tad’s mother disapproving, grasping to hold onto to the conventions she knows, yet trying to understand her sister’s lifestyle.  In between, there’s Tad, his older brother, Stuart, and his sister, Marissa, all struggling to break free of the conventions of “typical” in their own ways.   In the end this is a book about losses and lessons learned—and for Tad a painful two-package deal connected with growing up. This is a novel well worth a reader’s time—beautifully written, well researched, and funny—a novel that takes one back to another time and for some of us provokes the question will the 1960s always stay with me?  With help from this lovely novel, I think they will.
15Racinereader More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining read, that evokes the 60's era, the Kennedy family dramas, and the trials and tribulations of all our families, who grew up in the Baby Boom era.  The author deftly manages to combine serious family and relationship issues, with a fun and nostalgic sense of humor, about who we were, and how we lived in that time. Jerry Stevens
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fun read and very well written.  Great for a second book from this author.  Can't wait for another story from this fantastic wordsmith