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The Boy He Left Behind: A Man's Search for His Lost Father

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3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  60 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Mark Matousek's one memory of his father goes back to his childhood growing up in an eccentric Jewish family in Los Angeles; one day, when he was watching The Ed Sullivan Show with his sisters, the father he had never known appeared at the door and tried unsuccessfully to kidnap him. He never saw his father again. Years later, he told this story to a friend, who dared him ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 20th 2000 by Riverhead Hardcover
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Linda
Mar 25, 2011 Linda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
How do you find forgiveness for a father who tries to kidnap you, then disappears from your life forever? What happens when your mother's life descends into a blurry struggle to fill her own emptiness? In this book, Mark Matousek answers these questions as he guides us into the dark heart of childhood wounding, and back out into the light of compassion. Though his initial search, a literal search that includes a detective, is to find his missing father, in the book we are drawn into wanting to u ...more
Rachel
May 03, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it
This book kind of found me. I was in non-fiction in the library looking up a totally different subject, when I noticed this title. I picked it up on an impulse, read the back, put it down as something I probably wouldn’t like (too Oprah’s book club depressing), but then came back to it later on a second impulse and checked it out.

I was still wary – and rightly so. The book is a memoir of a thirty-something man’s search for the father that first kidnapped him and then abandoned him as a small chi
...more
Frieda Vizel
Sep 27, 2015 Frieda Vizel rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars.

As far as memoirs go, this is an example of the genre's potential. It's a gem. The writing is incredibly thoughtful, precise, self aware, the story moves at a fast pace, and best of all, it's as believable as they get. The only problem is that the premise doesn't have enough suspense built into it. The book is a boy's search for his father with a lot of original Jewish/gay story woven into it, a lot of colorful characters and drama, but not much is at stake when a thirty something man
...more
Wilhelmina
Mar 21, 2014 Wilhelmina rated it liked it
This was an interesting well written book, and ultimately it was powerful, moving, and not only sad, but uplifting as well. Mark grew up in a very dysfunctional family, his father leaving the family but trying to kidnap him, but then disappearing from his life, never to return. Mark begins a futile search for his father, and although his life seems to travel from bad to worse, he maintains a connection with his birth family........his mother, his grandfather, his sisters. Through drug hazed days ...more
Rena Graham
Jun 23, 2015 Rena Graham rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Mark Matousek writes with so much clarity and honesty, that I always end up learning a lot from his work. This
is a story of trying to figure out what it means to be a man and the struggle is elegantly written. I especially wanted to read it because I got the afterword to this story last year - 15 years post publication, when he found out something about this man he never thought he'd know.

His character portrayals are always illuminating. "In her prime time, Marie was a stripper; now she sits in
...more
V H
Dec 19, 2011 V H rated it it was ok
Very interesting book about a man's search for his father. There are loads of people and names in the book so it can be quite confusing at times. But it's interesting to read about someone's thoughts about finding his father. I can't even begin to imagine what that would be like. He also writes a lot about his past, how it was growing up in his family, and how he feels about the different people in his family.
Laura
Jan 18, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it
I don't know that I would recommend this book to just anyone, but I found it incredibly moving. It gave me insights into some life situations that (thankfully) I have not faced personally. The author is eloquent, but with a sharpened sparseness of words that I aspire to. One of my favorite lines: "Forgiveness comes as a subtle release." Isn't that extraordinary??
Careyleah
Aug 01, 2014 Careyleah rated it it was amazing
While Mark (likely) is not writing for all children who grow up without a parent, his story resonates with me. The details vary greatly, but Mark has a way of capturing emotion in words like few other writers. This is a powerful book. Read it.
Annita Stewart
Oct 19, 2016 Annita Stewart rated it liked it
Enjoyed reading this book
Rebecca
Jan 27, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very quick read, well written and thought provoking. What makes us a family, what are the ties that bind us, and what happens when the ties are missing?
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Mark is a bestselling author, teacher, and speaker whose work focuses on personal awakening and creative excellence through self-inquiry and life writing. He brings three decades of experience as a memoirist, editor, interviewer, survivor, activist, and spiritual seeker to his penetrating and thought provoking work with students. His workshops, classes, and mentoring have inspired thousands of peo ...more
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