Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell
Laurie Sandell grew up in awe (and sometimes in terror) of her larger-than-life father, who told jaw-dropping tales of a privileged childhood in Buenos Aires, academic triumphs, heroism during Vietnam, friendships with Kissinger and the Pope. As a young woman, Laurie unconsciously mirrors her dad, trying on several outsized personalities (Tokyo stripper, lesbian seductress, Ambien addict). Later, she lucks into the perfect job--interviewing celebrities for a top women's magazine. Growing up with her extraordinary father has given Laurie a knack for relating to the stars. But while researching an article on her dad's life, she makes an astonishing discovery: he's not the man he says he is--not even close. Now, Laurie begins to puzzle together three decades of lies and the splintered person that resulted from them--herself.
Here was my immediate thought when I opened The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell "Holy Toledo Batman it's a comic book!!". Ok, I guess it is technically an autobiographical graphic novel, but it was my first thought. I don't know how I missed that fact, but it wasn't really publicized that way. Anyway, I am not going to lie I was disappointed - I don't usually read graphic novels. Since Hatchette Book Group had given me the book with the intent to review it, and the plot really did sound good I said to myself, "JUST READ IT!" I'm glad I did. Itwas a quick, enjoyable read.
The story begins during Laurie's childhood. Laurie not only loves her father, but is proud and enamored by all of his experiences. This is a man who has been a war hero, had friendships with famous people, and was extremely intelligent. He had degrees from NYU and Columbia and had been a professor at Stanford. As a child Laurie spent all of her time listening to his stories and working to earn his approval. As his "favorite" child she was the boss over her sisters. Unfortunately as his favorite child she was also the one that bore the brunt of his anger as she got older. He liked to tell her it was their similar personalities and because of her pride in him she liked to believe it.
When Laurie reached high school she realized her father was different than others and began to worry. She began questioning her father's stories, but then left it alone. In college she received a rude awakening when she found her father had used her identity for credit card fraud. From that point forward the relationship between Laurie and her father began to go downhill. Laurie spent many years searching to find herself. It was if learning that her father wasn't honest caused her to lose who she thought she had always been. If she had always been just like him then who exactly was she?
As an adult Laurie began an in depth search to discover exactly who and what her father was. The last half of the novel focuses on this journey. It led to family issues and personal disconnect from relationships. She also found herself with an ambien addiction and inablity to cope with life in general.
I found this to be a very easy to follow format and an interesting story. In fact, I finished it in two sittings because I couldn't seem to put the book down. I appreciated the brutal honesty of the story. This was about her father and his lies, but it was also about Laurie and her personal story of growth. She puts it all out there...every failure, embarrassment, addiction, you name it.
I found I was able to connect with Laurie, but there weren't any other characters to bond to in the novel. I felt not only anger, but sadness toward her father. He seemed to have created his fantasy world due to his upbringing. However, he had delved so deep into it that even when confronted he was never honest. Most of the other characters are only in the background...they are a product of what Laurie and her father have done.
An important note: Because she is so brutally honest and the story is in pictures you should watch where you read it. Cartoon pictures of naked women were a bit embarrassing when sitting in my work breakroom. They were done to tell the story not to be x-rated, but still not good to be in public and open to those pages.
Here is an interview with the author from Marie Claire.
I will be ending my giveaway on this book tomorrow evening (July 23rd, 2009) so be sure to enter before it is too late. It is definitely worth reading.