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Reviewed by Tiffany Ferrell for Readers' Favorite
In President Kennedy’s Promises by Anna M. Carroll, we are introduced to Kegs Addams, an upper-class girl from Chicago whose dream it is to work in the foreign service for the White House. Being a lover of learning languages, Kegs knows that this is her destiny. Her dreams get sidetracked though when her Federal Judge father dies and Washington is on hold until she can take the exam. Luckily her friend Maggie finds her a job with social services in the welfare division in Chicago. Working with the welfare department, Kegs is assigned to a multicultural poor neighborhood in which most of its inhabitants receive aid one way or the other. Starting out thinking this will be a temporary two-week job, Kegs becomes emotionally involved with some of the families and the children. Will Kegs take the exam and leave Chicago behind for a foreign service job in Washington?
I thought President Kennedy’s Promises was an excellent read. I must admit though, for a good portion of the book I found Kegs to be very unlikeable. She is very narrow-minded and oblivious to the city's issues and those of a lower class when the book first begins. The fact that she loves learning languages and yet refuses to partake of or immerse herself in the culture was a bit frustrating as well. Actually one of the other characters described it perfectly: “You dream of foreign places and foreign languages, but you make faces at people’s food.” My view of her really turns around the more she opens herself up and begins to see these lower-class citizens as more than a job of stopping at people's houses to make sure they aren’t fraudulent. Overall, I think Anna M. Carroll did an amazing job of painting us a picture of the lower classes in the 1960s. It was a real surprise to me that some of the practices that social services and welfare enacted just seem ridiculous and discriminatory nowadays. It’s definitely a subject I would like to dive deeper into learning more about it.