Title: The Imposter’s Daughter: A True Memoir
Author: Laurie Sandell
No. of Pages: 247
First Released: July 2009
Synopsis (Courtesy of B&N): “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.”
Comments and Critique: Confession – this was my first graphic novel. Given their popularity these days, I find it rather shocking, but there it is. Whether it was due to the graphics themselves or the actual story, I found myself quickly drawn into Ms. Sandell’s story. In fact, I started it around 10:30 PM Sunday night and finished it two very short hours later. I was compelled to keep reading to find out whether Ms. Sandell was able to overcome her demons. The fact that I was loathe to put down the book well past my bedtime is a testament to the power of the story.
Unfortunately, I was left feeling rather dissatisfied. I can imagine that rehab is not something about which it is easy to write and reflect, and yet I felt that Ms. Sandell either glossed over some of the details of her stay or “prettified” it. This is in direct opposition to the very blunt and honest observations she makes about herself elsewhere throughout the book. As a result, the two sections were rather disjointed and disruptive to the overall flow to the book.
In addition, I couldn’t help but feel let down by the ending. Ms. Sandell obviously had a tremendously rocky relationship with her father, deservedly so to some extent. The entire book is filled with such anger at her father, such despair at her relationship with her parents in general, that I expected more resolution to the overall story. I realize that true life rarely ever gives us a pat, satisfactory ending to our own personal stories, however I did expect one while reading The Imposter’s Daughter.
Upon reflection, I believe that my expectations where more a result of the fact that the graphics made it more story-like than memoir-like. I found the pictures distracting and began to ignore them after a time. I am not 100 percent sold on the graphic novel. It was easy reading, but as I am not one to linger on the pictures, I began to resent them ever so slightly by the end of the novel. I believe that the format of the book detracted from the overall story.
In general, I did enjoy reading this book. I really did want to find out how it all ended. Ms. Sandell presents her very personal, poignant struggle with both humor and self-deprecation that I definitely appreciated and enjoyed. I also appreciate the strength it took to write such a novel, baring all secrets and demons to the world as she did (complete with illustrations!). I can’t help but wonder if it would have been even more powerful had this been a normal novel rather than a graphic one.
Thank you to Anna Balasi and Hachette Books for the opportunity to review this book!
Has anyone else read this? What were your thoughts?