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My Sister from the Black Lagoon: A Novel of My Life
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My Sister from the Black Lagoon: A Novel of My Life

3.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  434 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
"I was born into a mentally ill family. My sister was the officially crazy one, but really we were all nuts."
So begins My Sister from the Black Lagoon, Laurie Fox's incandescent novel of growing up absurd. Lorna Person's tale is wrested from the shadows cast by her sister, Lonnie, whose rages command the full attention of her parents. Their San Fernando Valley household
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 13th 1999 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1998)
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Jul 14, 2014 Nicole rated it liked it
While this novel has many complaints about the shift of focus about halfway through the novel, I have to argue that it is Fox's intention to do so. Growing up with a mentally ill sibling forced the main character to only see her ill sister as the main focus of her own life's story. However, this focus shifts for both the reader and the main character when the main character begins to go through puberty. Her time in adulthood near the end of the novel is the character's attempts at reconciling th ...more
Jun 22, 2015 Julie rated it really liked it
I'm somewhere between "liked it" and "really liked it", but come to think of it, I told my daughter that I was slightly obsessed with this book somewhere along the line of reading it.
Told as a novel, but truly reflecting her actual life, Laura Fox writes about her life growing up Jewish in Los Angeles with a mentally ill older sister. At times touching and heart wrenching, at times hilarious she really hits on the awkwardness of growing up and trying to fit in, made especially difficult with a m
Apr 06, 2011 Kaion rated it it was ok
So life’s too short for tiresome reads, so I’ll be quick. Confusingly marketed as an “autobiographical novel”, My Sister from the Black Lagoon starts out promisingly as Laurie Fox/Lorna Person tells of growing up in 50s/60s Southern California with her “crazy” sister Lonnie—who shouts colorful murder threats, fears toast with sharp edges, cares for a veritable menagerie of reptiles, and terrorizes babysitters, but has also, Lorna thinks, the sweetest insides of anyone she knows. It’s both comica ...more
Aug 17, 2011 Tania rated it it was ok
Fox caught my attention with the first line of this novel, as she writes that "I was born into a mentally ill family. My sister was the officially crazy one, but really we were all nuts." This statement is simple on the surface, and yet it speaks to the overall impact on a family system when one person has an illness, be it mental or physical. In the first part of the book, she keeps a clear, steady focus on the Person family, and it works beautifully. I started to get a sense of knowing not onl ...more
Jul 18, 2011 Lauren rated it it was ok
This book started off rather promising. It delved nicely into family dynamics of a younger sister placed on the back burner of her family because her family had to deal with a mentally ill older child. It strains the family and the girl, Lorna Person.

The book is told from Lorna's perspective and she grows from a child to a young adult attending UC Santa Cruz. It is really a coming of age novel which is shadowed in part by Lorna's guilt over her distance with her sister and her own desires.

This b
Sep 06, 2011 katemfs rated it it was ok
This book was loaned to me by a friend... say, 1-2 years ago.
I'm fairly certain at the time we had a conversation that was, "You might really like it... the narrator is sorta over-shadowed by her sibling, who situationally demands more attention..."

So as I'm reading about this jewish woman coming of age with a mentally ill, macabre, [gender dysphoric?] older sister, I kept thinking:


Reasons I did not relate:
1. The narrator has a LOT of feelings,
2. The
Marlaina Connelly
My Sister from the Black Lagoon was an interesting story. the older sister was something mental, her younger sister was trying to deal with her life and the guilt of having an insane sister, and the parents just dealing with everything in California during the 60s-70s. the first 2 parts of the story was based more on the older sister, which i partically enjoyed more than the younger one. the younger one, yes i understand that its hard, but after a while of her complaining, that got annoying

Feb 27, 2014 rachelraven rated it liked it
Why am I always these days intrigued by a book for the first half, then bored the second half? So many lately, I see good beginnings, and then it goes a bit blah for me. But not a terrible book: just average.
Aug 23, 2016 Lisa added it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
It's been a really rough couple of reading weeks. I couldn't get into the massive dysfunction of this family. DNF.
Jul 05, 2007 Janna rated it really liked it
Lindsey - I think you would enjoy reading this book, based off of what you've said at book club meetings and your own list (I have it if you would like to borrow it). It is told first-person perspective from a girl who's sister suffers from a mental disorder. I'm not sure if it is ever defined exactly what it is. The story is about how the narrator (the younger of the two sisters) copes and really how the whole family is far from "normal" as everyone is affected emotionally and is coping with th ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 17, 2016 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it did not like it
Hated this book.
Wonderful book.
Mar 25, 2011 Amy rated it liked it
I'd like to give the beginning of the book 5 stars.. and the end of the book three stars. In any event I gave it 3 stars overall.. the overly-wrought, personally introspective second half of the book really did not appeal to me. The first part of the book, that dealt mainly with the wild and crazy, out of control (and often funny, but in a "we're going to laugh at this someday" kind of funny), problems that Lonnie brought on her family was waaaay better than the second part of the book.
Mar 25, 2013 Cecilia rated it liked it
Laurie Fox's memoir of living with her mentally ill, raging sister Lonnie is eye-opening and endearing. I haven't read many novels about the mentally ill that feature someone so imaginative, rambunctious, and boisterous the way Lonnie was portrayed. There are parts of the narration that are more subdued, which I was tempted to gloss over, but the balance Fox paints between her own introversion and her sister's "wildness" unfolds neatly and satisfactorily through her writing.
Aug 31, 2010 Kimmyh rated it liked it
This was just an 'OK' read. I could, some-what, relate to the main character as someone who both deals with their own mental health issues as well as other members of my family...but, there came a point when her self-pity/angst got on my nerves. Especially since her life didn't seem all that bad, considering it was her sister who ended up living in a Group Home.
Feb 08, 2009 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Wonderful "autobiographical fiction". The author takes us inside the workings of a family dealing with mental illness.

Opening sentence: "I was born into a mentally ill family. My sister was the officially crazy one, but really we were all nuts."

Fun, disturbing and deeply touching, a sympathetic understanding of our connections to our families.
Jun 17, 2011 Kierstin rated it it was amazing
I actually fell in love with this book. It had a crisp, straight-forward 1st person narrative. Although the story changed focus onto lorna, the book still held uts own. The books' message was deeply moving and the characters somewhat relatable. Overall this was the type of book where you long to follow the life of this character. Five star plus!novel
Jul 27, 2007 Kendall rated it really liked it
My sister gave me this book years ago because she thought I was like the main character - the complex, often difficult, but irresistable sister from the black lagoon. That made my heart melt.
Then I realized that she felt like the other main character, and I went liquid for a whole different reason. This is a beautiful book that all sisters should read.
Aug 14, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it
I remember reading this shortly after it came out, around 1998. Haunting and disturbing and funny, just like the endless party of living with a mentally ill family member. I keep mixing this up in my head with that Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, by the woman who works for NPR. I'll have to look up her name--Jacki Lyden.
Jul 03, 2012 Irene rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This book was terrific. Laurie Fox has a way with a phrase. I couldn't put this one down. It was poignant, funny and so well written that I was there, if you know what I mean. This is a story about her life with a mentally ill sister, how the family deals with it, and the author's coming of age. Great read.
Neilie J
Oct 19, 2013 Neilie J rated it really liked it
I never knew someone out there had lived my life until I read this book. This is a funny, astute, emotional account of what it's like to grow up in a family where mental illness is present, and how the coping mechanisms you have to use to survive in that family can either cripple or empower you.
Katie McCleary
May 21, 2007 Katie McCleary rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dreamers, siblings
one sister is confined to the back burner of her life because of a mentally ill sister. Highlights a sibling relationship where disability occurs in the family. This is a fast read, a story that writes about what it means to gain ownership of your life, to be a dreamer, and take the stage.
Sep 18, 2008 Teresa rated it really liked it
In my affinity for all psychologically-disturbed fictional characters, I found this book and read it several years ago. I picked it up again last week and found it equally readable. A little sad, a little dark in places, a little funny. I'm not sorry I re-read it.
Jul 12, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it
I picked this book up on the sale rack at a large chain book store and it's one I liked enough to hang on to. It's the story of a mentally ill child told by her sister, and how the former child's illness affects the entire family.
Nov 28, 2008 Joanie added it
I can't for the life of me remember if I finished this book or not. I got it from the library and I know I started it but I really can't remember much more than the beginning. I'm going to have to check it out again and see.
Kitty Kereszturi
Oct 05, 2008 Kitty Kereszturi rated it it was amazing
Another mental health-related book (I can't help it, they enthrall me!), but told with an extremely humorous narrative. If you enjoy sardonic humor and the quirky nature of family life, then you should read it.
Jul 08, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it
Laurie Fox is a true poet; this book is beautifully written. Delving into the psyche of either sister was labor-intensive for me, but it was worth it for the heartbreak and the comradery I felt for each of them.
I thought this book was going to be another "The Glass Castle" but it is so much more.
Filled with emotion, this is a coming of age story that is hard to read (read: hard to imagine) and yet, hard to put down.
Oct 01, 2008 Anji rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
A must for anyone wh ois interested in reading about dysfunctional families. Real story about a "normal" girl who was raised in an "abnormal" family and the special bonds they form.
Feb 09, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it
A quirky tale of a family who truly earns the term 'nuclear'. This bizarre depiction of mental illness on the outskirts of hollywood is well written and funny.
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