You'll Be Okay
My Life with Jack Kerouac
"The book brings to life several important characters within the life of Jack Kerouac including Lucien Carr, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs—all of whom helped to shape the Beat Generation. Kerouac-Parker’s strength lies in showing these characters as ordinary men instead of ‘mythic’ writers—which rings especially true in her descriptions of Kerouac.
You'll Be Okay is not a memoir that sets out to add new details to the continually growing myth of a man or dish the dirt on Jack Kerouac. It is, quite simply, a story of love and loss—and one that deserved to be told."—Deidre Wengen
"[You'll Be Okay] is an in depth retelling of the story from Edie's perspective and it will add to our knowledge of Kerouac's life...It has been a long time coming..."
"Those who read only the best-known works of the Beat Generation—Ginsberg's Howl, Kerouac's On the Road, Burroughs's Naked Lunch—will be forgiven for thinking that the Beats were a misogynistic lot: women, when they appeared at all, were cast in minor roles, and it is only in recent years that we have begun to hear their side of the story. You'll Be Okay: My Life With Jack Kerouac is Edie Kerouac-Parker's account of her marriage to Jack Kerouac, and though the marriage only lasted from 1944 to 1946, it is clear that those two years came to represent a lost, golden period in her life. Written much later than the events described and published posthumously. . . the account is deeply nostalgic and rich in detail, and it gives a vivid sense of what it was like to be a headstrong young woman in love with a budding author, both of them trying to make it big in Manhattan during the 1940s"
The San Francisco Chronicle
"Sad and funny, full of pathos and the lost dreams of youth, 'You'll Be Okay' will find it's way to the short list of exceptional books by women of the Beat Generation that includes Carolyn Cassady's 'Off the Road' and Joyce Johnson's 'Minor Characters.' This year, on the 50th anniversary of the publication of 'On the Road,' readers may well want to turn to Edie's long-overdue memoir for one woman's soulful view of Kerouac, Carr, Ginsberg and Burroughs, whom she knew intimately and describes in her own inimitable style." -- Jonah Raskin
An insider's account of the birth of the Beat Generation in New York City, this posthumously published memoir by Kerouac's first wife describes their meeting and courtship around Columbia University during World War II. A young socialite from Grosse Point, MI, with a keen interest in art and fashion, Edie at first seemed badly matched with the working-class football hero and tyro writer from Lowell, MA. Before long, however, she was devouring hot dogs, driving a forklift on the Brooklyn docks, and living with her beau. After his arrest as a material witness in a murder investigation, Kerouac wed Edie, who drew on her trust fund to make his bail. Although the marriage was short-lived, the couple remained in touch, exchanging occasional letters and phone calls until a month before Kerouac's death, in October 1969. Joining earlier memoirs by Kerouac's former wives and lovers, including Joan Haverty Kerouac's Nobody's Wife, Carolyn Cassady's Off the Road, and Joyce Johnson's Minor Characters, this book offers a fresh look at Kerouac as husband and lover as well as a new chapter on the role of women in the Beat Generation. Highly recommended. – William Gargan
"Kerouac’s first wife, Edie Parker, played a pivotal role in his literary evolution, but her side of the story hasn’t been fully known until now. A pampered and venturesome 17-year-old when she first spies handsome Jack pushing Cole Porter in a wheelchair near Columbia University, she falls madly in love. Against her family’s wishes, she valiantly marries Kerouac in 1944 in order to spring him from a Bronx jail after he was arrested as an accomplice to their friend Lucien Carr’s murder of the stalker David Kammerer. Fascinating in her own right, and writing with compelling lucidity and soulful sweetness, Parker vividly recalls her posh childhood, life in Queens with Kerouac and his parents, and her pride in working as a longshoreman. As she shares intimate details of her hectic wartime life, she provides a rare female perspective on the notoriously misogynistic Beat enclave. The story of how Parker’s radiant memoir finally reached print 15 years after her death is yet more poignant testimony to life’s mysterious ways." – Donna Seaman
"Kerouac's first wife recounts her years with Jack, whom she met when they were students at Columbia, and their friendships with such Beat writers as William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg."
"Neither scholarly tome nor critical analysis, Edie Kerouac-Parker’s new memoir is a warm, intimate, and colorful portrait of the embryonic journey of Jack Kerouac. . . Edie’s prose in You’ll Be Okay is rich with detail and laced with humor, and her vivid memory of everything from what they ate and drank to what films and musicals they saw make even the well-trod portions of this tale newly engaging. . . Above all, however, it’s the unique female voice and point of view that gives this memoir its strength and importance in the otherwise male-dominated canon of Beat Literature."