Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The Impostor's Daughter
Publisher's Summary. 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.
Review. Growing up in the shadow of a parent’s celebrity or wealth is both a blessing and a burden, but what if the fame and fortune is a lie? In The Impostor’s Daughter Laurie Sandell shares her “if it wasn’t true you’d never believe it” childhood of being raised by a father who fabricated almost everything he uttered.
According to Sandell, her father claimed to have a law degree from New York University; a PhD from Columbia; written papers for Kissinger; served on the National Security Council; and held a Mensa membership. Sandell’s father was not only book smart, but a modern day Rambo as well including serving as a Green Beret. Eventually, Sandell learns that none of her father’s tall tales contain even a kernel of truth. Sadly, her father is a con man/swindler with a grandiose fantasy life. Although Sandell is repulsed by her father’s web of lies she also enjoys the drama. This leads her to engage in some reckless behavior before cleaning up her act.
The Impostor’s Daughter is an interesting mix of pathos and humor. There are points in the story when the reader wants to shake the truth out of Sandell’s father. While at other times, the whoppers are the stuff of situation comedy scripts. One of the most telling passages occurred when Sandell joins the Brownies. Shortly thereafter her father gives her a sash full of Brownie badges. When Sandell protests that she needs to earn the badges her father retorts that she did earn them. This appears to be Sandell’s father’s rationale for his mendacity.
The Impostor’s Daughter is uniquely suited to the graphic novel format. The drawings, penned by Sandell, add another dimension to the story. First, the illustrations heighten the surrealism of the narrative. The pictures also help to tell a story which is told in far less words than a traditional memoir. Lastly, the cartoons showcase Sandell’s sharp wit.
The Impostor’s Daughter is a highly unorthodox, but entertaining memoir!
Publisher: Back Bay Books (July 12, 2010). 272 pages.
Advance review copy provided courtesy of the publisher.