A vivid chronicle of a daughter’s struggle to find herself.



A memoir about a charismatic mother who embroiled her daughter in a dramatic affair.

In a candid, deftly crafted narrative, Brodeur (Man Camp, 2005), co-founder of the magazine Zoetrope: All Story, reveals the family secrets that burdened her life from the age of 14, when she became her mother’s confidante and accomplice in a love affair. Her mother was an attractive, charming woman, “a breath of fresh air, an irresistible combination of clever and irreverent,” and the author worshipped her. Although the lover was a close and long-standing family friend and the affair betrayed her kind and beloved stepfather’s trust, Brodeur willingly helped her mother cover her tracks and distract others from noticing the couple’s disappearances, covert touching, and secret glances. For years, she felt thrilled by her role and deeply sympathetic to her mother’s needs for love and sex. After her stepfather had suffered several strokes, her mother felt more like a caretaker than a wife. She confided in her daughter that she needed more—and she needed her daughter’s support. Brodeur was flattered by her mother’s dependence on her, and when she traveled during a gap year, she called home weekly, feeling guilty “for not being more supportive” by phoning more often. Not until she shared her story with a new boyfriend—and later with a woman friend and her future husband (who, bizarrely, was her mother’s lover’s son)—did the author realize that someone outside of the family would see the arrangement far differently. “I felt confused,” she writes, “suddenly thrust into a state of disequilibrium” by listeners who saw her mother “as perpetrator, not victim.” Admitting that her mother’s behavior was abusive made her feel “an unbearable sense of disloyalty.” Her need to separate herself from her mother grew, however; in college, she tried to create a new identity, different from someone “so consumed by her mother that she hardly knew where her mother ended and she began.” That project defined her life for years to come.

A vivid chronicle of a daughter’s struggle to find herself.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-51903-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?