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Change Me into Zeus's Daughter: A Memoir
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Change Me into Zeus's Daughter: A Memoir

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,719 ratings  ·  163 reviews
A haunting and triumphant story of a difficult and keenly felt life, Change Me into Zeus's Daughter is a remarkable literary memoir of resilience, redemption, and growing up in the South. Barbara Robinette Moss was the fourth in a family of eight children raised in the red-clay hills of Alabama. Their wild-eyed, alcoholic father was a charismatic and irrationally proud man ...more
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published (first published September 12th 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Claudia
Sep 26, 2010 Claudia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Claudia by: Alex and Katie
Shelves: memoir
What a powerful memoir of a truly harrowing childhood. Before GLASS CASTLE, there was this. Barbara Moss was one of eight children raised in abject poverty by a drunkard of a father and an inegmatic mother who, by not protecting herself and her children, seemed to condone the abuse: "She seemed to crave him as much as he craved alcohol." Barbara suffered physically for her neglect and malnutrition: Her teeth and face were disfigured, causing her more emotional suffering.

The writing here is fierc
...more
Katie
Fiercely honest coming of age novel of growing up poor and with parents that in their own ways are unable to provide for the needs of their children. It is a difficult book to relate to if one had a fairly normal/good childhood; but there is humor interspersed with the tragedy which keeps the book from becoming too heavy with despair and anger.

Although, it touches on heavy topics it is well written and opens up those doors that books to to let you become aware of lives that you yourself will no
...more
Karo
Rather than compare this memoir to Angela's Ashes, I think that I would draw a comparison to Mary Karr's The Liars' Club. The books are quite similar: young girl in the south growing up in poverty with an abusive/drunk father and an oddly artistic/educated mother who doesn't quite fit the picture. Unlike Karr's poetic lyricism, though, Moss sticks to the facts. She describes her childhood growing up dirt poor in rural Alabama with her 7 brothers and sisters in exhilarating detail, recollecting t ...more
Janalee
I'm just hitting the jackpot with memoirs this year. Can I brazenly give this book 100 stars? Throughout the majority of it I was both livid and aching because of the behavior and treatment of the father to his wife and children. And their living circumstances. And the poor but toughened mother and everything she put up with. But it was bolstered by the kindly people who helped them along the way.

Toward the end it took a fairly happy turn. There are so many things I want to say about this book,
...more
Kathryn Bashaar
This was an absorbing, harrowing memoir of a girl growing up in a very poor family with an alcoholic father. I grew up with an alcoholic father, too, so some of what Moss experienced was familiar to me, but my dad was Ward Cleaver compared to hers. Her father was a self-absorbed sadist. It's amazing to me that his children still loved him and mourned him when he died.
Barbara's father spent money on booze even before feeding his family. She was so malnourished that her face was deformed, and as
...more
Jennifer Vogel
I picked this up because Amazon recommended it to me because I had read The Glass Castle. I had also read some reviews and people compared it a lot to Glass Castle. This book is a little choppy. Unlike The Glass Castle, which somewhat goes in order of the narrator's life...this book jumps around a lot. Each chapter is not connected to the one before or after. Barbara's father was a crazy alcoholic and everyone in the family was afraid of him. Barbara had a disfigured face that left her feeling l ...more
Traci Domergue
Nov 07, 2012 Traci Domergue rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, young Mothers
Recommended to Traci by: my Mama and a friend from work
I found this book written by Barbara Robinette Moss mesmerizing to say the least. I am also from the same part of Alabama as she. Even though my own childhood was quite different than hers, I felt myself so into her world. I wasn't pitying her (she was proud) but Empathy is the emotion I had for this family. She tried so hard to hold onto her hopes and dreams. I admire that. Eight children depending on their dirt-poor parents (Dad being the alcoholic) and Mom being the proud yet singlehandedly g ...more
Pam
I read this for bookclub. I don't like memoirs, and this book didn't change my mind. Although well written, I found this book a very frustrating read. Barbara and her many siblings come of age in the sixties with a drunk abusive father and a mother, who seemed unable to protect her children or to leave her abusive husband.
Carol
A couple of spoilers coming. This is a really awesome book. the author was one of 7 children in a very dysfunctional family. The abusive, violent alcoholic father was allowed to abuse the children by their mother, who belatedly rebelled when he started fooling around with another woman. Barbara experienced things that would fell a lesser person, and kept fighting, managing to get herself a degree from Drake University which frankly seemed an impossible dream thru much of the book. I really liked ...more
Thart2002
This is not a typical autobiography but rather the telling of things that the author and her brothers and sisters experienced growing up. I would have enjoyed it better had the stories been written in a sequential order but they were not. Still, it was an interesting book and quite a testimony to the strength of the human spirit as well as the desire to love our parents no matter what. The living conditions and poverty that an alcoholic father and codependent mother lived with and thrust upon th ...more
Holly
This memoir reminded me a lot of The Glass Castle. Barbara was born into a family of an alcoholic and abusive father, stoic and poetic mother, and lots of kids. They were impoverished in the South, and Barbara lived with a face that she likened to a mummy - twisted with malnutrition and tooth decay. It amazes me that any of them survived, but survived they did, and luckily, Barbara knows how to tell a story! Our book club enjoyed talking with amazement and sometimes horror about what this family ...more
Dina
This book made me want to run to my parents and thank them for being responsible, caring, educated people who placed my well-being above their own.

It is a difficult book to relate to if one had a fairly idyllic childhood; but the humor interspersed with the tragedy keeps the book from becoming too heavy with despair and anger.

The author has an amazing talent for capturing moments in time and sharing them with wit, grit, and pathos to her audience.
Amanda
I absolutely love this title and couldn't wait to crack open this book. However, I ultimately was left disappointed. Yes, it deals with a poor upbringing in Alabama, abuse, addiction, alcoholism, all of the necessary components to a memoir (it seems). However, Moss doesn't seem to mix together the components into a cohesive whole, and I was left with a rather distinct impression of nothing. I remember very little about this book.
Lauren Mesa
What constitutes "family" comes in all shapes & sizes - and I always enjoy the opportunity, through someone's memoirs, to be a "fly on the wall." This singular life, unlike mine & revealing in its fierce honesty, held my interest from beginning to end. The author, a survivor, takes the pain of her life and gives it words, thus giving us a gift. Knowing she is alive today & no doubt still holding much pain, I wish her well.
Karen
I enjoyed this novel so much that I read it twice. Ms. Moss writes from the heart, and does not mince words when it comes to her backgroud of family dysfunction. So many times I felt her pain, and had to stop, thinking of how blessed I am, growing up in my family.
I have also read Ms. Mosses other books as well. Great read!
Love
I read this and loved it. As sad as it was you could really place yourself in some of those situations. I posted it to give away and then found a hardcover copy at a book sale and it is now on my keeper shelf. Awsome read.
Tina
This book is recommended for anyone who likes an incredibly well written book about another starving family in the South where the men drink and the women suffer and get pregnant. Its just not my favorite type of memoir.
Heather
Reading this book made me extra thankful for my wonderful parents and all they provided to me and my brothers.
Julie
Holy Smokes, what a book !



A memoir of a girl growing up in Alabama in a dirt- poor family with lots of kids and an alcoholic father , this is a very depressing book about how bad and low someone's life can be . This huge family goes through so much heartache, the main part of it due to an alcoholic father who caused so much grief throughout the years . He usually drank up all the money if he was working ,but he lost many jobs throughout his life. He got very mean when drunk ,so there was a lot o
...more
Anastacia
I loved the way this author painfully describes her poor childhood. This book was quite sad and full of very real situations that happen even today in modern American society. Barbara Moss recounts a childhood with 7 brothers and sisters, an abusive alcoholic father and a saintly mother. While I found the father a disgusting human being I couldn't help hating the mother to some degree. The author cleary loves and adores her mother and she really does come off as a saintly woman but the mother ca ...more
Vineeta
Incredible storytelling. Moss' vivid antidotes recount a slue of misfortunes including extreme poverty, an alcoholic & abusive father, bullying & humiliation by outsiders, a devastatingly low self image & so much more. Counter to the horrifying events & conditions her family was victim to, there is a deep respect, strength & connection within the family also revealed through her storytelling. Although the characters & most of the dynamics in the family are well defined, I ...more
Ellyn
Barbara Robinette Moss' memoir was heavily lauded when it debuted in the late 90s. The entire memoir was an offshoot of a short story memoir she wrote -- the first vignette in the book -- that was critically acclaimed. It should have been, as it is tightly crafted and well written, and very affecting. However, some of the other recollections fall a little flat in style and seem clunkier, like she could have used a better editor. That being said, overall it's quite a good memoir of growing up poo ...more
~mad
This book could be really sad and depressing considering the subject matter, but the author take me right "in there" with her family and tells it all.

This is about poor poor folk and undaunted in the South."A wild-eyed alcoholic father and a humble heroic mother" this "twisted, mummy-faced little girl" grows up with her 7 brothers and sisters.

It's a memoir set in Alabama in the early 1960's.

I highly recommend!
Emily Harrington
A haunting, wonderfully written memoir about a girl growing up in extreme poverty in Alabama, in the 60s, with an alcoholic father and a mother who wouldn't-or couldn't-leave him. An amazing story that shows the power and bond of siblings. Also-that what we may wish for most our entire lives is not what we bargained for, or really wanted in the first place. I could barely put this book down-it reminded me very much of Angela's Ashes, as well as The Glass Castle.
Karen
This must be the year I read heartwrenching stories about girls with facial deformities. First, Roadsong, then Truth and Beauty and now this book. A cross between Glascastle and Roadsong, it limns exquisitely the horrific state of being an ugly, underparented, poor kid in the rural south. Some of the episodes are beyond explaining. I enjoyed the book, but have to say I questioned the sequencing of chapters and the huge holes the author left as she jumped around in time. Some eras seemed repetiti ...more
Trudy
This book left me saddened, stunned and amazed. I loved it. Having been raised in a poor rural community in the same decades as the author, I "knew of" kids and families like hers, went to school with them, and was very glad I was not one of them. This is a must read. Weeks after finishing this book,it haunts me and I find myself opening it up and reading pages and chapters at random and wondering how the author survived at all! I also wonder about her parents and what made them "tick". What hap ...more
Gail
I thought Barbara Robinette Moss did a great job of making a palatable story of a her childhood memories of living in fear of a disturbed alcoholic father. She masterfully wove in the good and hopeful things her family experienced in their deeply bonded love for one another--even for their violent father. It was hard to put down. The author was very honest about her feelings and her observations of her family, but non-judgmental. So there's no easy pigeon-holing any of these interesting characte ...more
Blaine Morrow
Heartrending without being sentimental or whiny, this memoir makes the reader feel the humiliation, frustration, despair, and anger that attend a childhood of abuse, alcoholism, neglect, and poverty.
Kate MacKinnon
What a great book!
4.5-5*

This is an autobiography of a girl growing up in Alabama in true poverty - so poor her malnourishment causes her bones to develop improperly. She is one of 8 children and she tells stories upon stories of their shananigans, of their loving mother who tries to deflect their drunken & abusive father's attentions to her rather than the children but who is still not strong enough to remove herself and her children from his clutches.

The book could become a tad confusing a
...more
Keri
This book had the potential to be a five star story. However, all the author wanted to really talk about was her horrible father. There were lots of stories from her childhood about how the family survived not only extreme poverty but life with an incredibly abusive and alcoholic father. However, when it came to talking about her own journey, especially how she dealt with her facial deformity and life after reconstructive surgery, the author didn't really seem to want to tell the story. Another ...more
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