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Who Do You Think You Are?
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Who Do You Think You Are?

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  623 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
After her mother's death, Alyse Myers covets only one thing: a wooden box that sits in the back of a closet. Its contents have been kept from her for her entire life. When she was thirteen years old her mother promised she could have the box, "when I'm dead. In fact, it'll be my present to you."

Growing up in Queens in the 1960s and '70s, Alyse always yearned for more in

256 pages
Published May 6th 2008 by Simon & Schuster (first published May 1st 2008)
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Apr 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
A book about a not-so-good relationship between a mother and daughter. While I thought her mother was abusive, it was not as serious as it was portrayed. We should all get unconditional love from our mothers, but we all don't. And we don't call it abusive. I think this girl earned a lot of what she got. She showed no respect for her mother at any time. They were just two people unaware of what the other was going through who perhaps shouldn't have been living together. I was totally unable to sy ...more
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Staci by: Publisher
Shelves: 2009-reads
This book made me sad. I had such a hard time being sympathetic to Alyse's mother at anytime during this book. Even when I knew this woman was dying, even after getting a peak into her early days when she loved with abandon. What I took away from this book is the knowledge that children are resilient. We, as children, have a way of hating our parents with such ferocity, but we also love them with great loyalty no matter what they might have done to us. In the end, Alyse was able to forgive her m ...more
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
Alyse Myers' story takes place in Queens, NY where she was born and raised along with her 2 sisters. She is the eldest of the three. She was also the target of her mother's wrath. Alyse's parents did not get along, and she and her sisters witnessed many screaming matches between their parents which usually ended by their dad leaving and slamming the door behind him, only for him to return later and ring the doorbell over and over again and yell to be let in. Alyse's mom would yell back, telling ...more
May 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
Who Do You Think You Are?: A Memoir; by Alyse Myers is a wonderful memoir that hooked my from the very first page, and did not let go. I was able to read this deeply moving story all in one day.

The story begins soon after the funeral of the author's mother as Alyse and her two younger sisters are going through the things left behind in their mother's apartment after her death. While two of the sisters are arguing over what to take for themselves, Alyse wants just one thing: a locked wooden box w
May 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The writing is perfect. She allows us just enough of her father's faults without going into detail, so that we know, she knows.....that in the end he wasn't Mr. Perfect either. This book describes real people, even though the Mother hurt her with terrible words, I had to feel sorry for the Mom even in the first part of the book, which surprised me, I was ready to really hate the Mother. But then, the reality of being home alone with 3 tiny people, 24/7, with little money and n ...more
Apr 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Alyse Myers’s memoir is very personal, brave and honest.

This memoir was mainly about Alyse Myers’ rocky relationship with her mother. The eldest of three girls, Alyse adored her father, but hated her mother. Alyse was her father’s favorite, but her mother’s jealousy and anger at the attention he paid to Alyse was something that Alyse would carry with her for the rest of her life.

It begins with her mother’s funeral when she remembers a secured wooden box that her mother kept in her bedroom closet
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dynamic-reads
Although this wasn't exactly my story (no memoir could ever be...why I love them so), but `Who Do You Think You Are,' I recall being a very dominant attitude 'ever so' prevalent in that time. I understood them all, none more so than Alyse's esoteric relationship with her mother. At the very beginning Alyse hoped her mother wouldn't remarry, and then added (which surely was in hinsight later in life), how she didn't realize (though she used the word cared) she was "sentencing her mother to life w ...more
Apr 28, 2009 rated it liked it
This story grabbed me from the first page, the wooden box and it's contents something I needed to know more about. Written in a very conversational manner the story of Alyse and her relationship with mother and father unfolds slowly, its details revealed in much the same way Alyse discovers them. With haunting undertones and an honest voice we see the struggles of Alyse and her mother as she looks back and tries to decide just exactly who she thinks she is and what exactly it is she deserves in ...more
Mar 06, 2010 rated it liked it
This was a solid read. It was a nice change of pace for me, going from some pretty intense fictions to someone's memoirs, a genre I often don't explore. I loved the tone of this book - the realness of the author and her family. It wasn't glamorized or horrified. She went into enough detail without overwhelming me. She explored relationships that are common relationships - mother/daughter, father/daughter, sister, grandfather/granddaughter. It was raw, it was real, and I enjoyed it. I also enjoye ...more
Sep 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Who Do You Think You Are? is a memoir of Alyse Myers' relationship with her mother. Growing up Alyse's parents were always fighting and then her father died at the age of thirty-four when Alyse was eleven. Alyse never wanted anything, but to NOT have a life like her mother's. As soon as she turned 18 she moved out on her own and worked her way through college. It wasn't until Alyse married and had a daughter of her own that she and her mother could finally begin to reconnect - both of them now m ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a memoir coupled with a mystery. Alyse's childhood was not happy, with her father's illness, mother's resentment and constant fighting and bickering. When she discovers a wooden box in her mothers closet after her death, she hopes the contents of the box will answer her questions about her parents, their choices, and her relationship with her mother. She tells the story in two voices, one as a girl and the other as an adult. At times I found it simplistic, but it must have been cathartic ...more
Oct 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Myers' memoir begins with her parents' troubled marriage. Her father passes away in his mid-thirties when Myers is eleven. Myers' mother was a young widow with three young daughters to raise, Alyse being the eldest, and the relationship between mother and daughter was rocky, to put it mildly.

Some reviews have criticized Alyse's behavior as a child, but my feeling was that she was simply mirroring what she saw in her environment and became a product of that dysfunctional situation.

There's a profo
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Totally didn't realize it during the first pages of this book that it's a book about love.
Alyse's mom's parenting skills seem to sway from mediocre to craziness. (Telling a young teenager to get out of her house for one thing) Though it traces the sometimes unbearable relationship between Alyse and her mother, there are insights here for all of us.
Alyse learned to understand her mom and not hate her right before her mother's death.
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it

I read this book because I am always after a good family mystery. Before I even began reading it, I wanted to know what was in that box! The intrigue of the box slowly faded while I instead got pulled into her beautiful, sad story. I was pleasantly surprised, this isnt a typical read for me. This book will make you want to call your mother and tell her how much you appreciate her, no matter what your relationship is like.
Feb 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Alyse and her mother don't get along. The mother is always comparing her to the dad, especially after he dies at 33. Her mother is so pathetic, it's truly amazing how she carries on with her life each day sitting at the kitchen table, smoking and drinking her coffee. While cleaning out her mother's house after her death, Alyse comes across a box that her mother wanted to hide from her. She takes it home, but is afraid to open it.
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-hold, 2009
This book was really easy to read. It reminded me a lot of The Glass Castle and a little like Three Little Words. It was like listening to a friend tell a story - and never wanting it to end. Speaking of which, the end was just kind of "meh". But I gave it four stars since it kept my attention and I finished it in one day because I was so interested in finding out what happens to the author.
Lynne Mari
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it
This was an easy to read book and I did like it although I felt like I was reading an eighth grade essay. The author was born the same year that I was, so there was identification with her about the culture at the time. I felt that it lacked feeling, I felt ambivalent towards her family, which I guess is the point!
Aug 11, 2011 added it
This was an interesting memoir - no matter how dysfunctional your family was, or how crazy you think your mother is/was, this one is probably worse. It is hard to feel any sympathy for the mother in this book, yet somehow her daughter develops it as she becomes a mother herself. Good for her, because I'm not sure I would have, if it had been me.
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Even though this memoir deals with some rather emotionally charged memories and situations, I really enjoyed reading it. It's a fast and thoroughly engaging book that had me hooked from the first page. The author even inspired me to write my own memoir, or at least put my childhood memories to paper.
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Promising writer; I'll be sure to look out for more from her. I chose it because Frank McCourt gave his approval. Jarring story about the complex relationship between mother & daughter. Only wish it hadn't hit so close to home.
Sally Anne
Jun 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
Although the writing wasn't awful, the story was only marginally interesting, and I never really go the point. Especially why anyone would publish this. It's not terrible, just not significant or compelling.
Jul 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a sad memoir of a girl growing up at odds with an angry mother and how after her mother's death, she was able to make her peace. The reader on the audio was terrific. But the book was a little dark for me.
Jun 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
A very intersting book about mothers and daughters....and a family with a mentally ill husband/father who dies young.......and the hardships suffered by the Mom and daughters without many social services...a very tough time
Jul 29, 2009 added it
Sad, crazy...but I couldn't put it down. It's one of those "don't talk to me 'cuz I'm reading" books. Well written memoir of emotional (and physical) abuse and what we, as grown children, need to (and have to) do to survive. A must read for grown daughters!
May 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Currently reading. I love her writing so far--so clear and stark.

Just finished a few days ago. Excellent writing on an ugly subject with a full circle ending.
Abbie K.
Jul 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who likes memoirs
I really loved this book. It is a wonderful example of how parents are perceived first by their children, and then later when those children become adults. Good reminder about making judgements.
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Read this on the plane from Denver to NYC. Fast read, compelling, sad story about a daughter's relationship with her mother
Jul 21, 2010 rated it liked it
I think I'm on a memoir kick lately, but this book was pretty interesting. The mother sounds like such a complete monster, though, that you have to wonder how exactly reliable the narrator is.
Amanda Linehan
Oct 04, 2010 rated it liked it
This was a really good book and a very fast read. It was light while touching on sad subjects, but it still felt very satisfying even though it only took me a few days to read. I do recommend it.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
There were inconsistencies that made me wonder how much the author had to fictionalize to fill in the places she didn't remember. But I could relate. In fact, sometimes I thought she was telling my own mother/daughter story.
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