Biography & Autobiography. Nonfiction. HTML: A NATIONAL BESTSELLER "Exquisite and harrowing." â??New York Times Book Review "This electrifying, gorgeously written memoir will hold you captive until the last word." â??People NAMED A BEST FALL BOOK BY People * Refinery29 * Entertainment Weekly * BuzzFeed * NPR's On Point * Town & Country * Real Simple * New York Post * Palm Beach Post * Toronto Star * Orange Country Register * Bustle * Bookish * BookPage * Kirkus* BBC Culture* Debutiful A daughter's tale of living in the thrall of her magnetic, complicated mother, and the chilling consequences of her complicity. On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me. Adrienne instantly became her mother's confidante and helpmate, blossoming in the sudden light of her attention, and from then on, Malabar came to rely on her daughter to help orchestrate what would become an epic affair with her husband's closest friend. The affair would have calamitous consequences for everyone involved, impacting Adrienne's life in profound ways, driving her into a precarious marriage of her own, and then into a deep depression. Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her lifeâ??and her motherâ??on her own terms. Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It's a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were
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Brodeur has written an astonishing memoir of mothers and daughters, dysfunction, complicity, lies, and secrets. She looks back, not only at the obviously inappropriate revelations of her mother but also at her own deep desire to be her mother's ally, the favorite, to be special, the one who would aid and abet her mother in this affair despite her love for her stepfather. She presents the reality of her relationship with her mother and her knowledge of this affair as she remembers it, not letting her mother off the hook for her questionable decision to include her young teen in her deception but not letting herself off the hook either for the thrill she felt in safeguarding this knowledge. Her writing is self-reflective and honest. She knows she's writing of rich people behaving badly but she embraces that without apologizing for it.
Without excusing her selfish and toxic behavior, Brodeur tries to convey the magnetism and appeal of her mother but she's not entirely successful. And her own complicity can easily be forgiven when she's a child but the reader will find it harder to understand her loyalty to this secret once she is older and it threatens her own relationship and marriage. This is a perfect book for book clubs who can delve into the very real, even if it reads like fiction, impact Brodeur's mother had on her life and in forming the person, wife, and mother she has grown into being and the rocky journey of self-discovery that got her there.
I hadn't realized it was a memoir when I picked it up. The "true story" aspect made this a pretty sad
This might be especially true because throughout most of this memoir, Brodeur seems to want to recount events as she experienced them. This gives the book a certain immediacy, but in these parts of the book, the author lacks any sort of a critical perspective on what happened to her. Psychologically speaking, she seems to have sleepwalked through much of her childhood and adolescence, and seems shocked when her first boyfriends inform her that few people would call the way that she grew up normal. Interestingly enough, a lot of her psychological trauma seems to have manifested itself physically: the author suffered from stress-induced stomach complaints from a very young age. The last third of the book, in which the author finally puts some distance between her and her mother and succeeds in as a person, albeit belatedly, is probably this memoir's strongest. There's more bad behavior from Malabar, of course, but the author's account of how she used literature, friendship, and a not-inconsiderable amount of personal courage to grow into the person she wanted to be is downright inspiring, and I'm not just saying that as a person over forty who still lives with his folks. Brodeur's writer's voice is strong and likable thought "Wild Game", but it's only in its last few pages that it seems to match the person being described in its pages.
How much you enjoy "Wild Game" will also likely depend on how many midlife memoirs you've read and how much you like the genre. Though it's well written, there isn't anything revelatory here in terms of form or structure, and, in certain ways, this book is considerably less shocking than some of the titles that have preceded it. Brodeur questions her own authorial choices in its epilogue, which is nice to see, but I think that "Wild Game" might have stood out a bit more from the other, similar memoirs if its focus had been more sociological and less personal. Money, as they say, can't buy you happiness, but this book suggests that it might not be able to get you taste or shame, either. Recommended to readers interested in real-life tales of messy lives, but probably not an essential read.
October 15, 2019
Recâ€™d Book 9/22/19
Bookish First Giveaway
Nonfiction, memoir, ARC
I received a complimentary copy of this ARC from Houghton Mifflin and Bookish First Giveaway in exchange for an unbiased review.
Andrienne â€śRennieâ€ť Brodeur shares her story growing up too soon and
Although growing up in an affluent family in Boston and vacationing on Cape Cod, life was anything but stable. Her mother loved to entertain and be the object of attention with grand elaborate meals and parties. Her parents spent a lot of time socializing with Ben and Lily who were friends with Charles. Rennie and her brother Peter were educated in private schools while they continued to live in Charlesâ€™ mansion until it finally sold.
As much as Rennie feels guilt about keeping her motherâ€™s affair with Ben a secret, she also relishes in the special attention she gets from her mother. It takes many years for her to acknowledge the relationship with her mother was inappropriate. But, as Rennie gets older and tries to find her own way independent from her mother she discovers more family secrets.
The lack of structure and parental guidance leads her to take a gap year in Hawaii. With unreliable family forgetting to reserve a condo for her, she quickly needs to fed for herself. She finds works at Pearl Factory in Kaanapali in Maui Village where she rents a studio apartment. Soon she becomes involved with Adam who was a 25 year old high school drop out selling weed to tourists when he wasnâ€™t working with his father and brother at the printing factory.
This is a moving memoir in which the author explores her past to make sense of her present. Once she distances herself from her motherâ€™s selfish, dysfunctional thinking she begins to accept herself as a unique individual who is not responsible for her mother. She begins to live life for herself with many pitfalls along the way. By falling down and getting back up she developed a strength she didnâ€™t know was possible.
I didnâ€™t know much about this memoir when I picked it up. It started off by describing the authorâ€™s 14-year-old self in a
â€śRennie, wake up. Please wake up.â€ť
Just go away, I thought.
â€śSweetheart. Please. I need you.â€ť
At this, I opened my eyes. Malabar was in her nightgown, her hair mussed. I sat up.
â€śMom, whatâ€™s wrong? Is everything okay?â€ť
â€śBen Souther just kissed me.â€ť
I took in this information. Tried to make sense of it. Couldnâ€™t. I rubbed my eyes. My mother was still there beside me.
â€śBen kissed me,â€ť my mother repeated.
Donâ€™t get me wrong: thereâ€™s nothing boring about this book. The authorâ€”or her editorâ€”has a keen sense where cutting away chaff is concerned. I almost wish that Iâ€™d have access to the initial draft of this book, as the authorâ€™s style and sense of keeping things curt is both noteworthy and desirable; I wish more writers had the authorâ€™s good sense (and, possibly, editor).
â€śHe wants me to meet him in New York next week. He has a board meetingâ€”some salmon thingâ€”and Lily plans to stay in Plymouth. I donâ€™t know what to do.â€ť
We were lying on our backs, heat emanating from our bodies.
â€śWhat do you think I should do?â€ť
We both knew this was a rhetorical question. Malabar was a planner. She had already made up her mind.
â€śIâ€™m going to need your help, sweetie,â€ť she said. â€śI need to figure out how to do this. How to make this possible.â€ť
I lay as still as a corpse, unsure of what to say.
That a mother decides that her infidelity is something brilliant to confide in her 14-year-old daughter is incomprehensible to all; thatâ€™s not the interesting bit, though. To me, itâ€™s both how this affects the authorâ€™s relationship with her close family and how it affects her growing up.
This book is written by a grown woman in her fifties. Sheâ€™s able to look back over life with both aplomb and integrity and simultaneously evoke both the horrors and closeness that her motherâ€™s immediate unveiling of her infidelity brings.
More than one time during my reading of this book did I feel disgusted and angry at a parent whoâ€™d unloaded a horrendous thing like that onto one of her children.
Still, the author doesnâ€™t handle that as Donald Trump would; she reports it almost as stoically as a child would at that time; just as she did as a child, I suppose. There are analysis and straightforward telling of the facts that made me feel they were straight from the mind of her childish id.
To cover for Malabarâ€™s affair, I would tell Charles one thing, my father and Peter another, my friends something else, attempting to explain either my motherâ€™s absences or my own.
All families have secrets. When your mother is self-oriented almost ad infinitum is a larger-than-life character, and only wants you to confide in while cheating on her husband, everything becomes something that the secrets converge on.
â€śBen is like a wild animal,â€ť my mother said in a way that made me understand that weâ€™d left the topic of gardening.
â€śThe man needs a jungle.â€ť
The book is not only about the authorâ€™s mother; itâ€™s also about her realising herself, becoming an individual in her own right while developing her own life, and then, as we all do, circle into her mother and father as we all do. The book displays this in a near-Ingmar Bergman state of affairs without turning overly dramatic.
I wonâ€™t say more about what goes on in this book, but I will strongly recommend it. The language is that of a seasoned writer who has turned over this, the story of herself and her family, for a long time before delivering it to the public in book form.
This is a laudable effort and deserves to be read by everybody who likes memoirs, especially well-written ones. Itâ€™s cathartic about the overt and slowly and elegantly reveals how a woman can grow up and evolve into her own while hiding and constantly revealing her past.
Side note: It seems weird for the author to go to the trouble to use pseudonyms for everyone in the book and then basically out them all in the Acknowledgments. What was the point of that? A legal department thing?
I'll start with the writing. It took a while for me to get into the flow of the writing. I was into the book immediately but her style took me a
There are many instances where it is easy to just judge and step away from trying to understand these people. Understanding does not require approval, it simply requires the basic senses of compassion and empathy. That said, you will still have many moments where you shake your head and just think, 'are you kidding me.' But many of those moments actually make sense if you have tried to understand rather than judge. With the mother's personality her actions do make sense. Dysfunctional, yes, but to a dysfunctional person it is logical. And a child, well, to feel close to a parent who might otherwise be hard to be close to is worth a lot of compromise. Does that make it right? That isn't the point here, the point is that it happened and it had long term effects.
I found myself anxious to find out what would happen next while also hoping it would not keep going. I was particularly impressed by the way the story is told from the adult's reflective viewpoint but at times almost with the child's perspective.
I would recommend this to readers of memoirs and especially those who enjoy reading about how someone comes to terms with a past that is, to put it mildly, questionable. Also any readers who like nonfiction that reads like fiction will enjoy this.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
Malabar and her lover remind me of this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: â€śThey were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.â€ť
This memoir is a beautifully written testament to the corrupting powers of entitlement and privilege. Well worth reading.
The story is about a mother, Malabar, who inflicts a horrendous duty on her 14 yo daughter, Adrienne, by making her an intimate to the mother's adulterous affair with her husband's best friend.
The story delivers a salient truth:
It's impossible to go through life without injury...physical, psychic, emotional. The important thing is what you do with that injury. One can work to resolve the issues and learn from them, developing a sense of resilience. Or one can draw into oneself and nurse the injuries for a lifetime. I think Malabar and Adrienne demonstrate those two responses.
It would seem that this book would invite a lot of projection on the part of the reader, especially for women with a complicated mother/daughter relationship in their lives.
I was impressed by Adrienne's ability to empathize with her mother. However, the story about her daughter in the epilogue made me wonder if she had perhaps over compensated a bit.
I must admit, I'm pretty sick of reading stories (fictional or otherwise) of bored rich people behaving badly because the lack of want has left room for trivial dramas. With that said, after I let out a sigh realizing where this was all headed, I kept with it. This is a testament to
I was looking forward to reading this memoir, due to all the advance praise for it, but after reading it, I just felt that it was all about the rich not caring who they hurt. The families lived very wealthy and carefree lives on Cape Cod and in NYC, and carried on an affair in front of their spouses, and involved a young daughter in this lie. It made me sick to think of a mother who would do this to her daughter, only caring about her own happiness, and not caring what effect it would have on the daughter. I felt sorry for Adrienne, but I also had a touch of "poor little rich girl" feeling that went along with it.
I also felt that it was odd that all the names in the book would be changed, and then the author names each person in the acknowledgement section of the book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Edelweiss.plus for a free reader copy, any opinions on the book are my own.
It took a lot of courage to write this book.
Adrienne is just 14 years old when the direction of her life is altered by her mother waking her to inform her she'd just kissed Adrienne's step-father's best friend. The next decade is filled with Adrienne assisting her mother in her elicit affair as Adrienne adores being within her mother's magnetic orbit.
The mother-daughter relationship captured within this book is both engaging and disturbing.
*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.