Merry Wanderer of the Night + memoir

The Imposter's Daughter

I picked up The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir

by Laurie Sandell on a whim during the Iowa City Book Festival. I was attracted by the bright colors and contemporary way of drawing, plus I was really pleased when I opened the book up and saw it was a graphic memoir instead of a written memoir. The story is about Sandell's father, an extremely intelligent man with a Green Beret, PhD, and thousands of unbelievable stories. When Sandell grows up she tries to live up to her dad's larger than life by traveling the world and then finally settling down as a celebrity interviewer. Through being an interviewer she discovers she is great at getting people to tell their stories, so she takes these skills to her father. Along the way though, she discovers that her father's stories were not real. And if they weren't real, then how real is she?

The Imposter's Daughter is a great story and I flipped through the pages at the speed of lightning to find out what wasn't true about her father and what was. Really, the story is unbelievable. I can't imagine going through my whole life believing one thing, and then growing up to find out my whole life had been a fraud. In some ways I think we all experience this, we grow up to find out our parents weren't always completely honest with us, but Sandell's life takes it to a new extreme. As far as good stories to tell, I think Sandell's is one worth telling.

But I didn't really think it was a great memoir. Sandell's character lacked depth, and I felt like I only knew her on the surface. She was young and loved her father, she grew older and a little wild, she settled down into a dream job, and then she fought with her family over finding out the truth about her father. The last phrase in the description is "who am I?" and I don't think I really know who Sandell is at all. And as a graphic memoir, my favorite parts of the book were the drawings she included from her childhood. Those said a lot more about her and were better vehicles than any of the drawings in the rest of the book. I often felt like the images were repeated on a page simply because she ran out of room for the text, and that's not what graphic memoirs should be. Each box should how us something new, a new emotion or feeling, and I think Sandell failed at that.

My general consensus is that it is worth reading because the story is wild, but I wouldn't go out and buy this one. I give it a C.

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The Imposter's Daughter + memoir