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Take This Man: A Memoir
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Take This Man: A Memoir

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,144 ratings  ·  178 reviews
From PEN/Hemingway award winner Brando Skyhorse comes this stunning, heartfelt memoir in the vein of The Glass Castle or The Tender Bar, the true story of a boy’s turbulent childhood growing up with five stepfathers and the mother who was determined to give her son everything but the truth.

When he was three years old, Brando Kelly Ulloa was abandoned by his Mexican father.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,144 ratings  ·  178 reviews

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Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Take This Man: A Memoir was a poignant read. This was my first introduction to the author Brando Skyhorse, and I am delighted that I had the opportunity to review his memoir by winning a copy of this book through Goodreads. Reading about Skyhorse's childhood was distressing at times. Skyhorse's mother Maria had men revolving in and out the door, was a phone sex operator, and lied to her son about his ethnicity throughout his childhoood. Sadly, even Brando Skyhorse's name is fictitious and evolve ...more
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
My review must be qualified by my realization that I should no longer read memoirs. Fans of reality t.v. will love this book. For me it was an agonizing slog through someone's most painful and ugly memories...until the last 40 pages when the author reflects and then the book becomes truly great. There is writing there that I wanted to re-read and send to friends and say 'isn't that incredible writing/beautiful/true'. That kind of writing is rare. I will read everything I can by Skyhorse (as long ...more
A Mexican-American novelist explores the sadness and humor of his dysfunctional childhood. “A chorus of six men calling me Son might sound ludicrous to you, but to me it’s the sound of survival.” Skyhorse grew up in Echo Park, Los Angeles in the 1970s. His Mexican mother, a compulsive liar, renamed him as a Native American and disowned his biological father, who left when Skyhorse was three. Over the years she introduced five ‘fathers’ and a plethora of boyfriends into her son’s life. It is no s ...more
Sep 23, 2014 rated it liked it
May the Great Spirit Guide You...

Is it wrong that on the nights that I am ruminating on the (many!) ways I have screwed up my kids that I think back to the many memoirs I have read and comfort myself with the knowledge that maybe my kids will be alright?

Case in point: Brando Skyhorse. His (Mexican) mom pretended they were Native American. His grandma pretended she was straight. He had, I think, FIVE stepfathers (who he hilariously cast as various Hollywood actors). This does not include all the
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't give 5 star ratings often. I may come back and modify it but right now, minutes after finishing the book, I think it well deserves the 5 stars, and then some.

I wanted to not like this book because of the rough language and the sometimes farcical scenes but those moments were outweighed by the times I wanted to reach out and take that little boy in my arms and snatch him from the damage I knew was being done to him.

I'm glad I stuck with it. This memoir is one not to be missed. It is well
Colleen Oakes
Take This Man, in the same vein as The Glass Castle - which is my favorite memoir - had that same violent and raw look at a dysfunctional family that both entertained and ripped at your own heart. Brando Skyhorse has quite the story, and like his mother, he is quite the storyteller. Ripped from father to father, none who could be bothered to stay with his psychopathic mother and his equally aggressive grandmother, women who circled men like emaciated tigers, Skyhorse longs for a father who will ...more
Anita NotherBook
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fathers, Sons, Mothers, Anyone who likes memoirs
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It features a young boy who is sort-of-kind-of named "Brando Skyhorse." His mother constantly lies to him about his real name as well as about his heritage and upbringing, so it's hard for Brando (or the reader) to know what is real and what is fabricated. He has no real sense of identity but only one that is constructed in his mother's "interesting" imagination.

In addition to having an emotionally unstable, pathologically lying, immature
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received Take This Man as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

"Unconventional" is not strong enough of a word to describe Brando Skyhorse's upbringing. Mexican-American by birth, his mother Maria lied to him for years about his heritage (that he was Native American) and the identity of his father (who he was told was an incarcerated American Indian activist). Over the course of Brando's childhood and adolescence, five fathers cycled through his life, most dodgy characters in ways that ranged from the
Judy Mann
Aug 27, 2014 rated it did not like it
Let's be clear here.I'm only half way through and all I can say is this book needs about 4000 gallons of WD-40. Some shmaltz, some fat, some something. It's just so damn dry and lifeless that it's boring me to tears.None of it seems believable but worse none of it is good to read. It needs some chicken fat- some bloody life to make it readable.There's just no umphh in this story. The writing is just that - writing. Nothing else. A whole lot of words -jammed together-making it just too dry to rea ...more
Alder Yarrow
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic and breathless memoir. We all think our parents are crazy, but you ain't seen nothin' until you've met Brando's mom. Surviving his childhood was a remarkable feat. Surviving it to be able to write a book filled with such humanity and grace is a triumph. If you liked the Glass Castle, this is even better. Highly recommended.
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Brando Skyhorse, a Pen/Hemingway award winner, was raised in the 1980s in the then-sketchy neighborhood of Echo Park adjacent to Dodger Stadium. He lived with his Mexican mother, Maria, who pretended that they were Native American, a bisexual grandmother who pretended that she was straight, and a series of no-account stepfathers who each got out when the getting was no longer good, taking "the small piece of me that wanted to be a man's son. With each successive father, that piece was regenerate ...more
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What does it take to crush the spirit of a child? Denigrate him constantly. Marry five men, each marriage long enough for a child to bond to his new "father", then banish each man from the home in a fit of pique. Put the burden of blame for the breakups on the child and continue to have many many more boyfriends. Purge your son's childhood memories by cutting out the photo images of past father figures. Remove the security of an ethnic identity and moral code. That should do it. But there's more ...more
On page 108 of Take This Man by Brandon Skyhorse, I paused to consider why I was reading this book. In general, I appreciate memoirs. I thought that I would appreciate and learn why many of my favourite authors, who had written their own moving personal stories, endorsed this one so glowingly. Neither, I realized, had come to pass by this point in the book.

A motley group of Goodreads reviews hinted at where I might find the real the end of this man's memoir, after all the words repor
Melissa Gill
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, though sad as it is. I couldn't help but feel the author's pain as he was let down time and again, and treated so cruelly by his mother and grand mother. He is very honest and very giving in this story about his life. I am happy for him that he finally got to know his family and his sister. I'm also sad for him that the father he so desperately needed and wanted his whole life was really just a few miles away from him the whole time. Did his father's fear of being deported rea ...more
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
I did not enjoy reading this book. Not one bit. There was not a single idyllic moment in Skyhorse's childhood. It was lies and shouting and instability. His mother's never-diagnosed mental illness (unless she were simply a huge asshole) muddied every almost-good memory. But, in the end, Brando finds people who don't lie and shout and try to break him. It hardly seems enough, but somehow it's hopeful.
May 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Verdict: An unforgettable, poignant memoir. Full five stars from me! Read it right away.
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this memoir. the writing was great and the story was fascinating while difficult to read at times. The ending was very satisfying.
Dan Kagan
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant writer. Great memoir.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I hope Brando feels peace and resolve in his heart.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another memoir done so right! His experiences come across raw and eloquent. His inner turmoil about his craving for a dad (and a “good” mom) and trying to balance the anger and disappointments from all angles is very clearly portrayed here. I’m always amazed at how these broken children can use these traumas in such a beautiful and productive way.
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Take This Man falls squarely in crazy-crazy-CRAZY-childhood memoir genre (Running With Scissors, Glass Castle, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, etc.), filled with stories that for the most part successfully walk the line between "just depressing Jerry Springer-ish TV fodder" and "genuinely sad/strangely exhilarating how'd-he-survive-that" material. For the most part. Sometimes I did feel gross bearing witness, like I was stuck in an airless ER waiting room or something, and some terrible fami ...more
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Brando seems to have no insight into anyone outside of himself; everyone else is just a one-dimensional figure that is only described in ways they've disappointed him.
He struggles to sound like a writer, using so much unnecessary filler that any story would seem tedious; and this one doesn't need help.

"On the drive to Candido's house, we struggled for small talk like picking up pennies wearing oven mitts."
I can just picture him at his computer thinking of any other thing that is difficult. "Oh,
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
(I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway.)

I have no doubt that Mr. Skyhorse's memoir will stay with you long after you finish it. It often reads like fiction, because you'll find yourself reading it and thinking to yourself "this can't be real, how could this be real?" I think I often forget about the struggles of others as I most commonly read fiction novels and, personally, had a pretty ideal childhood. Skyhorse's memoir will remind you to not take what you have for granted and will open your
Feb 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-reading
"Routine is uninteresting to recall and often unmemorable to record"

The problem is, that's what this book felt like to me: a recording of events. The best writing is at the end of the book, and I had to slog through the first 250 pages.

At times, overwritten, and scenes are rarely developed. Something significant happens and I want to say, wait, hold on! Rest here and let me explore this moment. But for the reader, there are few moments to stop and reflect. Skyhorse tells us what he thinks is imp
Aug 13, 2016 rated it liked it
I didn't like this memoir nearly as much as I liked Skyhorse's novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park. While he has an interesting story to tell, I feel he does a better job in the arena of fiction. This memoir suffers from what many memoirs suffer from - the author is more interested in his life than the reader is motivated to be. In his fiction, the sentences are so well crafted and the characters are multi-dimensional; here, I couldn't generate enough interest in Skyhorse's five fathers or much aff ...more
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Take This Man" is an astonishing memoir giving literary competition to Tobias Wolff's "This Boy's Life".

How Brando Skyhorse not only survived, but flourished as an accomplished writer, after being raised by little more than a pack of wolves is a feat in of itself.

Skyhorse's beautifully told story of his bizarre childhood and his search for a father moved me in greatly. I read "The Madonnas of Echo Park", written by this author years ago and await his next book.
Ramona Mead
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hands down one of the most powerful memoirs I've encountered that resonates with me deeply in regard to my own childhood and family history. Skyhorse chronicles his childhood with humor and raw honest reflection. Growing up with five stepfathers and a mother who was delusional and selfish, Brando is constantly questioning who he is and bounces between love and resenting his mom, who seems determined to not allow him to have a genuine father.
Elaine Plourde
Mar 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This was areally good book. I had no idea what is was about at the beginning but really started to enjoy the way he talked about his child hood. It was happy and sad at the same time.His moms little quote,"At least it never gets boring" was so true for this boy. I hope he finds peace in himself because he turned out to be quite a guy considering the life he lived.
Sep 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
An interesting story that is sadly hidden behind simply poor writing. Brando's simply rubbish at writing sentences and his style is underdeveloped and awkward. It's a pity, really. If you power through it there are some things to be gleaned from this book but it simply suffers too much under its stylistic problems and its confused themes.
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the one with my photo as the book cover. Patiently waiting to get my copy in June. :) Edited to add - my (absultely unbiased!) review here: ...more
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Brando Skyhorse is the author of the memoir "Take This Man" to be published by Simon and Schuster on June 3rd, 2014.

Brando Skyhorse’s debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, received the 2011 Pen/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The book was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. He has been awarded fellowshi

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