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And I Don't Want to Live This Life: A Mother's Story of Her Daughter's Murder
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And I Don't Want to Live This Life: A Mother's Story of Her Daughter's Murder

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  5,534 ratings  ·  342 reviews
For most of us, it was just another horrible headline. But for Deborah Spungen, the mother of Nancy, who was stabbed to death at the Chelsea Hotel, it was both a relief and a tragedy. Here is the incredible story of an infant who never stopped screaming, a toddler who attacked people, a teenager addicted to drugs, violence, and easy sex, a daughter completely out of contro ...more
Paperback, 408 pages
Published September 29th 1996 by Ballantine Books (first published 1983)
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Daniel I remember being at the public library, where I felt safe and comfortable, and sad me read this line handwritten inside a font page of a book, and it…moreI remember being at the public library, where I felt safe and comfortable, and sad me read this line handwritten inside a font page of a book, and it haunts and influences me to this day. A difficult life was what i faced, and this deeply painful, cutting-to-the-bone phrase, validated me in an odd ironic way. Other people felt the same thing? How could that be? Yes, I agree Ms. Bridgwater, the synopsis is too unkind and grandiose in reveling in the tragedy, rather than meeting the author and the person at least half-way. Everyone is complex, contradictory, and flawed, and to pretend some are and others are not, is to deny both of those people being considered as not fully human or real. Nancy Spungen was a real person, beauty and warts and all. (less)
Stephanie Because mental health care in the 1960s and 1970s was nothing like it is today, especially for children/teenagers. They gave her Thorazine, which…moreBecause mental health care in the 1960s and 1970s was nothing like it is today, especially for children/teenagers. They gave her Thorazine, which basically made her coma-like. They did not have the medications that are available today.(less)

Community Reviews

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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,534 ratings  ·  342 reviews

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Ana O
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
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John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. Eric Clapton and Pattie Boyd. Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson.

Sid and Nancy. It was a crazy, passionate, tragic, Romeo and Juliet kind of love affair. Their story had a crazy beginning, but maybe the craziest thing is how normal their relationship could have been.

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In all seriousness, this is a sad book. It's a sad story. Of course I'd heard of Nancy Spungen. I mean, who hasn't? During my unfortunate punk phase in high school – when I wo
BAM The Bibliomaniac
"to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.- e e cummings

Just pitiful and heartbreaking
Jun 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Loved this book I first read it when I was 14, being a Pistols fan, & Nancy Spungeon I was fascinated with her life. Wow! Her poor suffering mother writes a really harrowing touching well written book about a child who was clearly born 'disturbed' came out of the womb screaming & biting & never stopped. Then wandered NYC stripping whoring & following cool bands in a time I wish still existed. I know many people who came in contact with nancy they all say the same thing, she was t ...more
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book broke my heart. I read it nearly 25 years ago, yet I can recite parts of the story. It documents the incredible pain, sadness and heartbreak that the Spungen family endured throughout Nancy's turbulent and tragic life, even continuing after her death.

The public only saw the fabricated image of Nancy Spungen that was created by sleazy tabloid reporters. Yes, Nancy was a disturbed heroin addict, but she was also sensitive and could not find peace and happiness in life. She found somethi
Jan 28, 2014 rated it did not like it
I found the book to be uneven and self-justifying rather than an honest and clear depiction of Nancy and her mother. I didn't like it at all because the more I read, the more it took on a very self-centered viewpoint with very little compassion or understanding of Nancy as a person. I would hope that if my daughter died, and I chose to write a book about it, I would reflect more on the loss of a very unique and special (if troubled) woman without filling the pages with self-gratifying explanatio ...more
Jan 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing, because it lets people know more about Nancy Spungen, humanizing her instead of just viewing her as a minor, murdered character in the history of punk rock. I don't usually get teary eyed over books but reading the struggles that Nancy's parents faced from the time she was a child, ending with the way the police treated them when they went to claim her body had me bawling. I also think this is a must-read for anyone who is raising a learning-disabled child, perhaps if help ...more
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-reads
Easily one of the most hauntingly beautiful books I've ever read. The Sex Pistols were the first band I was ever really obsessed with and like most of their fans, I hated Nancy. From everything said about her by the remaining band members to people who hung out with The Pistols, I considered her to be the punk Yoko Ono.

This book was written by her mother. It begins with Nancy's childhood and weaves a tragic tale of a misunderstood girl. It recounts her illness, her drug abuse, a family confused
It was riveting. I can't remember even noticing the prose but the story of a mother struggling to come to terms with the loss of her always troubled but charismatic and beloved child is vivid even years after finishing it. The end is not an end; there is no real end to this kind of grief.
Nancy was most famous for her relationship with Sid Vicious (the Sex Pistols' bass player), who stabbed her to death in the Chelsea Hotel in 1978 (he died of an overdose before the case came to trial.) "And I Don't Want To Live This Life" is the story of Nancy's life as written by her mother and it is truly a harrowing one. Deprived of oxygen after a difficult birth, her life continued with non-stop screaming (as an infant) and uncontrollable episodes of rage and violence that placed an unimagin ...more
Chuck O'Connor
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a book about murder, specifically, the murder of Nancy Spungen at the hands of Sid Vicious, but it is also about the small murders that Nancy encountered from her mental illness, and the insufficient medical system in place in her time to deal with her disease. It is a moving story told by Nancy's mother, and while the narrative can become mechanical sometimes, Deborah Spungen's courageous insight regarding the trauma of a parental caregiver to a mentally ill child, and a survivor of fam ...more
Sep 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: mothers everywhere
Recommended to Violet by: St. Francis
The main thing I took away is the knowledge that although the Spungen family had a pool, they were not rich. Got that? NOT RICH! No matter what the press said! Regular old American family! Also, the fact that the author, Nancy's beleaguered mother, had "no time for the luxury of tears." I hear that!

I'm slightly bitter about this book because after I read it, my mother confiscated it, issuing the accusation that I wanted to be "just like Nancy Spungen." Oh, please! I look terrible as a blond.
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club-read
This was one of the hardest books to read - as a mother and as a woman. It was heart wrenching to read the very private side of a very public story. I applaud Debbie for writing this book and sharing her story and "her Nancy" with the world. This was a book club pick that I would probably never have picked up otherwise but am sure glad I did. I made so many highlights and notes while I read in anticipation of what will certainly be a fabulous discussion at book club this coming week.
Sep 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Courtney Love was not the first Borderline personalitied junkie to attempt to usurp the underground! The handwringing in this book is stellar; no wonder the child was so crazy. GREAT BEACH READ and cautionary tale for those of you with teenage girls!
Adriane Devries
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, biography
What mother doesn’t want their teenage daughter to get entangled in hard core drugs and the famous punk rock scene of the late 1970s? This one: Deborah Spungen, mother of the infamous Nancy, whose only claim to fame was and still is her two-year relationship with and subsequent alleged murder by British punker Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. And I Don’t Want to Live This Life is Deborah’s account of Nancy’s deeply troubled life, from a traumatic birth experience to her prophetic death before the ...more
Rosemary Allix
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the book that inspired a lot of my own writing. I've lost my original copy and haven't read it for years, so not sure how I would respond to it now. But at the time it blew me away. It is the story of an ordinary womamn - an ordinary American family - who had to deal with something extraordinary and impossibly heartbreaking in their lives. Nancy Spungen (who went on to be girlfriend of Sid Viscious and was murdered) was, her mother says, "Born angry". Nobody ever discovered why she turne ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
let me just say first that Nancy's mom should definatly get the award for best mother because after reading this book and all the stuff she had to go through since day one I do not see how she did it without having a freaking heart attack. This book scared the shit out of me being a mother myself, it's hard to read what another mother had to go through. I do however think this is the best book I have read in years it kept me interested and I could not put it down. I laugh because I know so many ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Jul 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
If you wonder what it's like to have an out-of-control child, and then what's it is like to have her become a famous murder victim, this is the book for you. I feel great pity for Ms. Spungen, but I can't help but think that the end of her daughter's life throws the rest of it into the worst possible light. Had she and Sid survived another decade, settled down, and raised some kids, that rebellious youth would feel very different.

RIP Nancy.
Ally Stefanides
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I rated this book so high for personal reasons. Nancy sounds like me in so many ways and I believe she may have had Borderline Personality Disorder as well. Mrs. Spungen tried to be as unbiased as she could be as a mother while giving as much detail about the tragic life of her daughter and one of punk's most visible icons, however undeserved that title may be.
Tiffany Bates
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Getting back to this one now after getting distracted with some other reads.
Kristin Myrtle
this is one of the most harrowing, hard to read books i know of. nancy spungen was troubled from her very birth. this is written by her mom and it is truly, truly heartbreaking.
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it

And I don't want to live this life

I was real unhappy with the way this started out.....
I felt the mother was very selfish, whiney, and crying for attention I honestly feel if they (her parents felt she was disturbed.... They would have got her help... Put her in a home... Not keep putting her in bringing her out... (view spoiler)) She put Nancy 1st! Above all...she even admits she looks over her other 2 children and husband to keep Nancy happy.
Sarah Hasanat
Jul 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
When I saw this book in my college library I was hooked because it was a real story and when I found out that it is the story about Nancy Spungen the girlfriend of the guitarist of Sex Pistols Sid Vicious,Ii took the book to read it. This story is one of the saddest stories ever written especially that the mother is the person who's talking about her child. The story is amazing the way that Deb wrote it, and shockingly unexpected what kind of life Nancy had when she was little. I came to a point ...more
Lucy Nichol
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Could not put this book down. Makes you think about the caricatures the media turns people into and feel guilty for first impressions. Nancy Spungen, the junkie girlfriend of Sid Vicious. Murdered in a hotel room. And the daughter of middle class suburban parents, who could never sit still as a toddler and screamed at her childhood night terrors.

You take it for granted these days that there is less taboo and more help for people. Are they just problem children or is there something else going on
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Nauseating Nancy, of Sid and Nancy fame, was actually schizophrenic. I think this book does a really good job of explaining multiple things in a very honest and compassionate way. Mental health services for young people with psychosis (especially at the time Nancy was in the system, but in some cases today as well) can be woefully inadequate to help patients and their families contend with the heartbreak and frustration they face on a daily basis. Nancy Spungen was "nauseating" because she was s ...more
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, 5-bunnies

I used to read this book a lot in high school and it made me think of it the other night. So I went through my boxes out in the shop and found it. I forgotten how much I loved this book. I loved the 'Sex Pistols' and I felt for Nancy.

I don't read a lot of biography's or Autobiography but this is such an amazing and sad read if you get the chance and love music. Then give this book a try.

Amy Layton
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: changed-me
I love this book. I just plain love it.

The mother's pain, love, and hard work. How she didn't cry until her daughter died.
Nancy's siblings and the pain she caused them.
Her parent's marriage and how they made it through it all.
How Sid was so devoted to her that he killed her.

This book has so many controversial topics, and I love bringing it up as to further support my opinions.
Mental illness, assisted suicide, family issues, and the differences between love and lust.

Even more interesting, I fi
May 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: punk fans & those who enjoy psychology
Recommended to Alison by: Brian Enright
I'm totally not into punk music and still this book was absolutely fascinating. I almost had to stop reading it in the beginning because Nancy's behavior was so super disturbing that I was getting freaked out that someday I'd have a kid like this. But I absolutely couldn't stop reading it. I thought that it was well written and you really feel bad for her parents and family for all the stuff that she put them through. I'm surprised that her mother could remember all the different problems she ha ...more
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And I Don't want to live This live 1 26 Mar 25, 2014 03:46AM  
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“You had to laugh, if you wanted to survive.” 6 likes
“Maybe they'll improve their ability to detect neurological damage. Maybe they'll be able to help someone else's baby. It's too late for Nancy, a generation too late.

It's good to see people opening their eyes to this syndrome that has no name. You tend to close them until it happens to your child. There is no such thing as a child who is not worth saving.”
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