Congressman Joe Kennedy has not yet read, "A Common Struggle," the memoir just released by his cousin Patrick Kennedy, but says he's close to Patrick and that that he's been an extraordinary advocate for mental health and addiction.
In the book, the former Rhode Island congressman shares the secret addiction and mental health struggles of the very public family.
"My story about keeping quiet and my family is like every other family in America who has these illnesses. Say nothing, do nothing, see nothing," Patrick Kennedy said.
Kennedy describes a dysfunctional family life in which his father, Sen. Ted Kennedy, walked out of an attempted family intervention over his heavy drinking, where Patrick himself was drinking by age 13 and the silent shame everyone felt. He says his mother Joan was often intoxicated during the day even as prominent people came through the house.
"And everybody would look down when my mom walked by at two in the afternoon - inebriated and everybody would say, God I hope I don't half to look up I hope no one has to say anything. I hope she can just go back to her room and shut the door so we are not subjected to this embarrassment," Kennedy said.
They are recollections that Kennedy's mother, stepmother Vicky, and brother Ted Jr are not happy about. In a statement, Ted Jr called the representation misleading and hurtful.
"I am heartbroken that Patrick has chosen to write what is an inaccurate and unfair portrayal of our family. My brother's recollections of family events and particularly our parents are quite different from my own," Ted Jr said.
"Al I can do is do the next right thing and pray that my brother will understand that what I'm trying to do here is bigger than both of us," Patrick Kennedy added.
Despite the controversy, Governor Charlie Baker hopes the book will be able to break down barriers.
"I think for the former Congressman to make the decision to come out and to speak so frankly and completely about his own issues with respect to addiction and mental health issues is a testament to some respect to his courage and his willingness to put this issue forward," Baker explained.