Title: The Impostor’s Daughter: A True Memoir
Author: Laurie Sandell
Genre: Memoir, Graphic Novel
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.
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!