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Review: ‘The Impostor’s Daughter’ by Laurie Sandell

Review: ‘The Impostor’s Daughter’ by Laurie Sandell post image

Title: The Impostor’s Daughter: A True Memoir
Author: Laurie Sandell
Genre: Memoir, Graphic Novel
Year: 2009
Acquired: Library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Review: On some level, I think what The Impostor’s Daughter says it is about and what the memoir actually delivers are slightly different things. I picked up the book expecting a story about a woman uncovering the truth about her father, but the book ends up being more about author Laurie Sandell finding herself in the shadow of her larger-than-life father. Luckily, Sandell’s delivery (writing and drawing) in this graphic novel more than sold the second story to me.

Laurie Sandell grew up worshiping her enigmatic and temperamental father. He regaled her with stories about his childhood in Buenos Aires, heroism in Vietnam, academic success at multiple universities, and friendships with major political players across the globe. Through her early adulthood, Laurie rebels against and mimics her father through a series of her own big personalities before landing the perfect job as a celebrity interviewer for a major magazine. However, Laurie soon discovers that her father isn’t everything he told her he was, and his lifetime of deceptions have left Laurie struggling with her relationships, with drugs, and with herself.

I love the drawing style in this graphic memoir. I can’t find any photos of it online, which is a shame, but you can get an idea from the cover. The style is bright and fun and really manages to convey the range of topics and feelings this memoir explores.

I also really loved the character of Laurie. She’s difficult and frustrating to read about, often making bad decision after bad decision, but I never got the sense that Sandell was trying to sugar-coat or hide parts of her story. I did have some sense of disappointment that Sandell never really reveals the truth of all of her father’s lies, but after reflecting I think she probably still doesn’t know and, ultimately, the book is more about what having an impostor father did to her than it is about exposing a strange old man.

While looking up some information about Sandell to write this review, I discovered that she’s the author of a recently-released book about the Madoff family, Truth and Consequences. Normally, I’m not that interested in the sort of ripped-from-the-headlines, current events type profiles, but I might give this one a try just because Sandell is the author. Given her life-long experience with a deceptive and charismatic father, I imagine she is the perfect person to write about Madoff and his family. It seems like a situation where the perfect author finds the perfect book, but I’ll have to read it to find out.

Anyone who loves graphic memoirs should pick this one up. It’s a book that challenges the reader a little bit, asking questions about family and trust and our own responsibility to those we love. I enjoyed it a lot and will be recommending it as an interesting example of the genre.

Other Reviews: I’m Booking It | Man of La Book | she reads and reads |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) November 8, 2011, 7:16 am

    I really liked this book. It does focus on the author, but I think she struggled because of all the lies her father told.

    • Kim November 10, 2011, 6:13 pm

      Yes, that’s a huge part of it. I didn’t make all the connections between her decisions and the impact her family had on her making them until I finished the book, but they’re definitely there.

  • Stephanie November 8, 2011, 9:40 am

    I have never really gotten into the graphic novel genre but this one has always held some interest for me.

    • Kim November 10, 2011, 6:15 pm

      I tend to really enjoy graphic memoirs, so this one was my style. I imagine a graphic memoir might be a good way to get into graphic novels — it’s grounded in reality, no superheroes or anything, which might make it more familiar?

  • avisannschild November 8, 2011, 11:06 am

    I loved this graphic memoir too (and reviewed it here) — it started my obsession with the genre (graphic memoirs, that is — I know that comics are a medium, not a genre!).

    I’ll link to your review and would appreciate it if you link to mine!

    • Kim November 10, 2011, 6:16 pm

      I always struggle with what to call these — graphic memoir always sounds weird to me, but graphic novel is wrong too. This would be a good starter graphic memoir though!

  • avisannschild November 8, 2011, 11:08 am

    Oh and thanks for pointing out that she’s written another book! Like you, it’s not something I’d gravitate towards naturally, but I’m curious about it because Sandell wrote it.

    • Kim November 10, 2011, 6:17 pm

      I was really intrigued by it! I wouldn’t normally be interested in the Madoff’s, but I feel like her experience would make her such a great storyteller for that family it could be really good.

  • Kailana November 8, 2011, 2:58 pm

    I am really curious about this book now. I have really been reading any of the graphic novels or memoirs this year and I really need to get back to them.

    • Kim November 10, 2011, 6:18 pm

      I’ve only read a few, but liked all of the ones I do pick up. I don’t buy them though, so I’m mostly limited to the library selection.

  • jenn aka the picky girl November 8, 2011, 3:59 pm

    I haven’t run across this one yet, but I love the GN format, so I’ll definitely add it to my list. Thanks!

    • Kim November 10, 2011, 6:19 pm

      Awesome, I hope you like it! I found it rather randomly at my local library.

  • Vasilly November 8, 2011, 4:09 pm

    I read this book years ago and really enjoyed. It’s amazing how many lies the author’s father told about himself and his life. Great review.

    • Kim November 10, 2011, 6:23 pm

      I know, it’s crazy! I don’t know how you forgive someone for that.

  • Trisha November 8, 2011, 7:25 pm

    It’s always wonderful to read something and not only enjoy the story but to also find a new author.

    • Kim November 10, 2011, 6:28 pm

      Yeah, I love that. It’s one of the best parts about reading 🙂

  • Marlena November 9, 2011, 2:05 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation! I finished Craig Thompson’s HABIBI last month and was disappointed (after loving BLANKETS and GOODBYE, CHUNKY RICE), so I look forward to reading another graphic novel.

    • Kim November 10, 2011, 6:29 pm

      I haven’t read Habibi, but since this one is a graphic memoir like Blankets, you might like it better. I also just read one called Mercury which is fiction, but had a drawing style that reminded me a lot of Craig Thompson.

      • avisannschild November 11, 2011, 8:19 am

        Ooh Mercury by Hope Larson sounds super interesting. Will you be reviewing it too?

        • Kim November 13, 2011, 6:36 pm

          I haven’t decided! I sent it back to the library already, but I still might do a short review.

          • avisannschild November 13, 2011, 9:49 pm

            Please do! I’ve read two of her graphic books and loved one, but didn’t like the other. I’m curious to hear your take on this one.

  • Jenny November 9, 2011, 7:15 pm

    I can’t even imagine how I would feel if I discovered that my father had been telling me lies all my life. I don’t think I’d have written a book about it! It’s always so odd to me when people do that. What must the rest of her family have thought?

    • Kim November 10, 2011, 6:29 pm

      I don’t know! They do play into the book a little bit and she does talk about how they were upset at times, but the book seems to end on a positive note, so maybe things are starting to be forgiven?

  • Aths November 13, 2011, 2:53 pm

    I’m embarrassed that I haven’t heard of this book, but I like the sound of it, so I’m going to try and find it. I can’t even begin to imagine what the author must have gone through.

    • Kim November 13, 2011, 6:37 pm

      Don’t be embarrassed — I hadn’t heard of it either. I just happened to find it while I was browsing in the biography section at my local library. It’s a crazy, crazy story.

  • Esme November 13, 2011, 5:01 pm

    I thought this was a rather strange book-actually I probably would not read the Madoff book given she is the author.

    • Kim November 13, 2011, 6:37 pm

      Parts were strange, but I liked them 🙂

  • Trish November 19, 2011, 10:41 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one Kim. I read it several readathons ago and can’t remember if I reviewed it or not. I found it so/so (maybe because I read right after Fun Home which I loved), but don’t exactly remember what it was that didn’t catch me. I agree that the illustrations are wonderful, though!

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:52 pm

      It wasn’t my favorite graphic memoir of all time, but I did like it. I wish it were more about her father, so maybe that was it?

  • Ash November 21, 2011, 10:45 am

    I read this one almost exactly one year ago and I didn’t really enjoy it. I guess I agree with Trish that it was just so/so for me. I just don’t think it has a much depth as other graphic memoirs like Blankets, Fun Home, or Persepolis.

    • Kim November 30, 2011, 6:53 pm

      Yeah, I think that’s true, it’s a little more superficial (even though she does deal with some serious topics).