A mother’s monitoring becomes helpful but overwhelming as the author travels a rockier road than most toward domestic bliss.
Though labeled a collection of essays, this book reads more like a memoir and covers some of the same ground as Monroy’s previous memoir, The Marriage Act (2014). The author proceeds chronologically and follows the narrative thread of romantic and marital misadventure, but the focus remains mostly on the relationship between Monroy and her mother. The latter, referred to throughout as the “Profiler,” has distinguished herself with the State Department for her sharp instincts in dealing with visa applications, and she uses that same intuition in judging—and almost invariably rejecting—her daughter’s suitors. “At fourteen, I felt smothered by the intensity of our single mother/only daughter relationship,” writes the author, and readers can easily understand, particularly after a teenage boyfriend with whom the daughter has shared drugs runs afoul of authorities because of “a personal mission to get rid of the bad boy who captured her daughter’s affections.” But as the daughter matures into a writer in her 20s and 30s and the mother continues to overstep, the attempts to cast this as sitcom cuteness begin to seem a little unnerving, particularly as Monroy invites her mother to contribute interludes on what was wrong with her daughter’s choices in men and why. The author does seem a little deluded in her choices—e.g., she fell deeply for a vagabond who said things like, “the real art is my life,” and “I’m a professional appreciator of moments.” This followed her marriages to a gay man, to whom she gave the gift of citizenship, and a second who turned overly controlling, followed by a cohabitant poet who was both a perpetual liar and psychopathically vindictive (inspiring the book’s title). Eventually Monroy looked for direction from a reader of tarot cards, making her mother more resentful, before finding belated stability in marriage and motherhood.
An uneven collection in which the author shows that it’s time to move on from mom.