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The Imposter's Daughter: Review

Synopsis: 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.

Details: The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell, 256 pages [graphic memoir], 3.51 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: Recently, I've been reading more memoirs, ever since I fell in love with The Glass Castle. I won this one and eagerly started in, with the intriguing summary and lovely drawings. Typically, the graphic books I read are limited to manga, so it was different to read something with Western-style art. However, it was easy to follow, and I have to admit - it sure was nice to read something from left to right! 

I'm not a visual artist - far from it. My drawings rival that of a two-year-old, and sometimes the two-year-old wins. But I don't think it takes an artist to judge art, and I loved the art done in The Imposter's Daughter. They were cute and simple, and done in the same style as you can see on the cover. Overall, this was an entertaining, easy read.

However, that "easiness" was part of why I didn't enjoy this book as much as I might have. As you can tell from the summary, the story is meant to be an emotional one, as Laurie Sandell sorts out her issues with her father and herself. And yet, as I read, I found myself having trouble connecting to her. A part of me was, of course, sympathizing with her for what she had to deal with and hoping that she would be happy and okay by the end, but I didn't really feel for her the way I wanted to.

I can't help but think this book may have been more effective if written the "conventional" way - that is, not a graphic memoir but just a "regular" one. (Sorry, I can't think of a better way to put this.) I feel like Laurie Sandell had an amazing story to tell, but it wasn't told as well as it could have been.

Of course, this is not to say you shouldn't read it. It's a fascinating story, open and honest. One thing you may want to look out for is that there is mild drug use, sex, and some drawings of naked people, so this may not be for young readers or sensitive people. 

My usual rating scale doesn't work for memoirs (how can you judge plot or characters?), so I'll revert to the smilies. 3 out of 5.


Kathy Martin said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Like you, I wonder if the correct format was chosen. I can't see how a graphic book can have the emotional depth of a standard book. Great review!

Audrey (holes In My brain) said...

thats a really unique idea, I'm not a big reader of graphic novels (in fact, i have only read one) but I think 'illustrating' a memoir is really cool. im curious, do you think you couldn't connect with the emotional story because it was more visual, or just because it wasn't there?
nice review!

Izzy said...

Kathy: Thank you :) Sometimes graphic books can be successful at it, but I've always found regular books to be generally more effective - or at least, they have more potential to be effective.

Audrey: That's an interesting question. It's really hard to say, but I think it's a little bit of both. The visual was an intriguing way of writing a memoir, but it didn't allow the author to show the emotion like you can with text. In a movie, for example, you can use sound (like music, effects, the actors' voices) to increase emotion, and in a book, you can use words to increase emotion, but in graphic novels/books, you have to depict everything in pictures - and that's even harder when the pictures are in a sort of cute, cartoony style.

Sherry said...

I don't like graphic novels at all. I've tried a couple of times, but no dice. So, although I would be interested in the subject of this memoir, I can't see myself reading it. I actually know and have dealt with the fallout from some imposters in my own family.

Kristen said...

I actually have this one at home. I'll be interested to see if I think the same when I read it. I'm a huge lover and promoter of graphic novels and it's nice to see such a variety available in the graphic novel format. Thanks for the honest review!

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