I read this book about five weeks ago, but I wasn’t really sure how to review it. Then BBAW and Europe happened and it got put on the back burner. I even asked around on Twitter for some advice on how to review it and Bookfool was sweet enough to give me some starter questions. Last night, though, I flipped back through the book, quickly re-reading, and think I finally have a better handle on my feelings.
The Impostor’s Daughter is mostly a memoir about Laurie Sandell’s relationship with her father growing up. Her father was an amazing man with even more amazing stories to tell, and Laurie, the eldest child, was always the apple of his eye. That is until she grew to be older and began seeing some discrepancies in her father’s stories. Laurie began to piece together some oddities in her father, including his taking out credit cards in her name and incurring debt, finding out her father did not have the degrees or military background he said he did, and other inconsistencies.
As Laurie grew into adulthood, she struggled to come to terms with her relationship with her father. In many ways she was lost herself and began experimenting with sex, aimless travel, ambien, and other destructive pastimes. As she landed a position in journalism, she began to use her father’s stories as a backbone for a piece outing him as an impostor. But could she really out her father? And at what cost to her and her family?
My Rambly Thoughts:
Sorry for the long summary, but because this book is two-fold, it is hard to summarize quickly. And perhaps that’s where my problems with this book stem from. On the one hand, this is a book about Sandell’s relationship with her father and on the other about Sandell’s finding her own self amongst all of the uncertainty. I personally believe that we are products of our environment, and so these two story-lines are in my opinion very related, but I’m not sure that Sandell makes the connection herself in the book. She’s lost and can’t settle on a relationship and begins taking pills and-and-and, but even through some of the things that happen in the end I don’t think Sandell truly comes to terms with what her relationship with her father means to her and her well-being. Perhaps a closer second read would give me more insight into this, but the ending of the book left me feeling really unsettled as it just felt so unresolved.
I wish I had more to say about this book, but if you’ll read through the reviews below they say many of the things I would say anyway. The sex–yuck. Couldn’t relate to Sandell (actually, I could relate in many ways to her relationship with her father but not to the self-destructive way in which she reacted). Wanted to continually compare this book to Fun Home, which I loved.
One plus about the book is that I really liked Sandell’s illustrations. Most of the comics I’ve been reading have been in black and white (which I prefer), but The Impostor’s Daughter is all in color and I loved how much depth it brought to the story. Sandell is great at capturing emotion in her illustrations. I really hope you can enlarge the illustration below to see the conflicted feelings Sandell has while listening to her father’s stories:
In the End:
All in all, I liked this book better than my review comes across. I just wish there would have been a little resolution to Sandell’s story. But since it’s a “true memoir” I don’t know how that could have been different unless she did find resolution. I’m not sure writing this book will give her what she’s looking for, but I hope she does eventually find closure to her relationship.
Bookfool asked me “If you had a choice, would you happily let your cat shred and eat it or recommend it enthusiastically to your friends and neighbors?” Luckily Maggie doesn’t tear/eat/chew books, but I wouldn’t let her shred this one. The illustrations are too beautiful. Not sure I’ll be recommending it to my friends and neighbors either. Good news is that there are many people who liked this book better than I did. And I didn’t dislike it–just feel kind of wishy washy towards it. Definitely go check out Laurie Sandell‘s website, though!
Do you think we are products of our childhood? How can we overcome that to become our own person–or will those experiences always color our future?
For a balance of opinions:
Claire from Kiss a Cloud ~ Bermudaonion ~ Alyce from At Home with Books ~ Bookfoolery and Babble ~ Nymeth from Things Mean A Lot ~ Avisannschild
(let me know if I missed yours)