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I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,689 ratings  ·  245 reviews
A memoir of mothers and daughters—and mothers as daughters—traced through four generations, from Paris to New York and back again.

For a long time, Nadja Spiegelman believed her mother was a fairy. More than her famous father,Mauscreator Art Spiegelman, and even more than most mothers, hers—French-bornNew Yorkerart director Françoise Mouly—exerted a force over reality that
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Riverhead Books
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  1,689 ratings  ·  245 reviews

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Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“The things my mother did not see about herself, I did not see, either.”

This book was exactly what I’ve been looking for, and I didn’t realize this until I was done. I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This is a memoir of mothers and daughters—and mothers as daughters—traced through four generations, from Paris to New York and back again.

We start out with an introduction to the growing relationship between mother and daughter. And I was swept away with memories.

“While other people joked
Axel Barceló
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love reading non-fiction and lately I have been reading a lot of memoirs and autobiographical books (Patti Smith’s “Just Kids”, Dave Eggers “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”, Julie Doucet’s “My New York Diary”, etc.) and it is clear to me that part of their success stems from them one or two very well defined underlying concepts or themes. Now, I am currently reading Nadja Siegelman’s “I’m supposed to protect you from all this” and, yesterday I started writing this brief text about ...more
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“My mother wasn’t perfect. My mother was intense. Things didn’t happen because they were possible, they happened because she decided they would….but, as anyone who has read a fairytale knows, all spells come with a cost. The magic pulled on hidden sources. … she could set the universe aflame, but she used herself as fuel. Somewhere inside, the earth was scorched”.

I’m Supposed To Protect You From All This is a memoir by American graphic novelist and author, Nadja Spiegelman. Nadja is the daughter
Jackie Rogers
Jun 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Have mixed feelings about this book. I really like reading about real lives for the most part. However this book kept me jumping backwards to remember which person was being talked about at any given time. Is about three generations of women that were not shown much love or affection in childhood. the grandmother was self absorbed and her daughter became the same and the granddaughter is wanting to know of their growing up years and who they are today. Was interesting enough to keep me reading ...more
So the guy who wrote The Complete Maus has a daughter, and that daughter is Nadja. Who knew, right? Ever wonder what it's like to grow up in a house with parents such as Art Spiegelman and The New Yorker art designer, Françoise Mouly? Nadja lets you know, sort of, though her memoir is mostly about the women in her family: her mother, her grandmother, her great-grandmother. If you're looking for scoop on Art, you're not really going to get it here, though there's a little. This is really about ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
So many books that I have loved this year have featured complex mother-daughter relationships - My Name is Lucy Barton, Hot Milk, Our Magic Hour, The Portable Veblen etc. This memoir tackles mother-daughter-grandmother-great grandmother memories and their legacies in a completely mesmerising way. I found it so relatable, beautifully nuanced and tender. I spent yesterday with my mother and could not stop talking to her about this book. The four women headliners are brutal, cruel, generous and ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
I had heard good things and was really excited to get into this. I love reading dark, complex tales about womanhood, femininity, mothers, etc. But the narrator had no sense of humor and no self-awareness. She grew up insanely privileged, which is fine, but seems to have no idea that most people don't have the same upbringing as she did.

For example: when she's talking about how hard it was to have a beautiful mother when she was an awkward, heavy teen, she says that her mom was asked to pose for
Jul 31, 2016 rated it liked it
This was an interesting history of four generations of strong women in the family of Francoise Mouly, the French born New Yorker art director. I expected to read more about the author herself in the book as it is called a memoir, but it really was more about the relationships between the previous generations. Their stories are fascinating and the way they affect each other's lives so deeply is touching and sobering at the same time.
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating 4,5
How brave of Nadja Spiegelman to write so unflinchingly and openly about four generations of mother-daughter relationships.
It was painful to read at times and at first I was even put off by the honesty (seems weird, but was true) as it seemed to lay everything bare and I felt ashamed and awkward in place of her family...
And then how beautiful it all comes together, how much love enters the narrative, how much tenderness and understanding.
It baffles me to see how unreliable all
Danielle McClellan
This book explores the complex lives of several generations of women. The young, talented author is determined to present a brutally honest portrait of her mother, her grandmother, and even her great-grandmother--and brutal it is as she pulls long-buried stories into the light. Like most of us, despite the love that they feel for one another, each of these women is staunch in defending her bulwarks, and often mired in her own complex history of resentment and pain. There are a few sections that ...more
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was so unexpected and lovely. The stories of mothers and daughters, and how memory is a shifty thing, rang so true to me. As a daughter (and now a mother) in a family who loves telling our stories, I thought a lot about which versions become truth and which just sort of evaporate.

Also: the author is a Stuy graduate, a year younger than me, and there is a small section about 9/11 that was written about as clearly and honestly as I've ever read anything about my (collective) experience of
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This might be the most honest memoir I've ever read! It's certainly unique--and prescient--about how it views the fallibility of memory.

Nadja Spiegelman starts with her own life, and her tumultuous relationship with her mother, at least when she was a teen. She then interrogates her mother's life and her own dramatic relationship with her mother, and finally she gets the scoop from her grandmother. I believe this approach kinda mirrors what Nadja's father, Art Spiegelman, did with his graphic
A sharp account of memory, motherhood (and daughterhood - is that a word?), and transitions. Beautiful and page-turning, I loved Spiegelman's voice, though she seemed to step back towards the end. Still, a brave and honest chronicle that I won't soon forget.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women, biography
This is a fascinating journey seen through the lens of a girl trying to understand her narcissistic mother, grandmother and even great-grandmother. I don't think the author would choose that word to describe her matrilineal line, and yet every story she shares falls deeply into that groove. She is on the outside, looking into their memories of the past, trying to put the pieces together to make a coherent "truthful" story, but "the truth" is impossible to find when everyone involved is ...more
Text Publishing
‘Spiegelman’s narrative complicates, blurs, and questions the line between the self and the other—that basic fault-line of all autobiographical writing—as perhaps only a story about mothers can.’
Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed

‘Spiegelman’s sagely poetic “memoir” is maybe best described as the biography of a mother seen through the eyes of a daughter…[Her] intimate portrait of female identity and idolatry is intelligent, forthright and heartbreaking. Her sentences will haunt me forever.’
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mothers and daughters and daughters of daughters. This intricate and compelling memoir explores several generations of women, their relationships, their flaws, their loves, how they raised their children and how their memories have shaped and influenced them.

These are very personal stories and Spiegelman treats her family's legacy with sensitivity and a real sense of curiosity.

I'm Supposed To Protect You From All This is a remarkable read and I was saddened when my time with these fascinating
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
A chronicle of three generations of Spiegelman females and the way they influenced each other

tl;dr at Overall, as always

Any comic book fan knows who Art Spiegelman and Vladek Spiegelman are, their lives examined in Maus in heartbreaking detail. But that's only one side of the prolific Spiegelmans, the male side. What about the women of the house?

The memoir concerns Josee, the grandmother, Francoise, the mother, and Nadja herself, the daughter, the writer, and the one who wants to uncover all the
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Other reviewers have done a great job of encapsulating the contents of this memoir, so this will not be all-encompassing. Nadja Spiegelman delves deeply into her family history, particularly in a matriarchal approach. I felt that it was no-holds-barred, but in the service of the exploration of the book's themes, rather than for cheap shock value. The author is extremely bright and highly analytical without veering into navel-gazing territory, which seems like a real accomplishment. Anyone ...more
Amy Formanski Duffy
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
By turns very melancholy and heartwarming, this memoir illustrates how family dysfunction can span generations but also how emotional wounds can heal over time. Written by the daughter of Maus author Art Spiegelman and New Yorker editor and Toon Books publisher Francoise Mouly, it first draws parallels between the author's upbringing in New York City and her mother's upbringing in France. Later she moves to Paris and grows closer to her grandmother, who slowly reveals dark secrets from her own ...more
Scarlett Peterson
Jun 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, giveaways
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Fair
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book, and read it over two evenings (and one afternoon). In addition to being extraordinarily well-written, it's also painfully honest and real. You may never look at your own family - or your own memories - the same after reading I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This. Highly recommend.
Courtney McCarroll
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Frustratingly, this didn't work at all for me. I guess the silver lining is that I realize how much skill it takes to write an effective memoir, but Spiegelman falls into the "and this happened, then this happened, and then this happened" trap without really reconciling these traumatic events.
Giselle A Nguyen
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the book I wish I could write. Spiegelman expertly weaves generations of stories into interconnecting threads, writing with heart and intelligence about her family history. Lots of interesting points about the fallibility of memory, and how it shifts over time. My favourite read of 2016.
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A marvelous page-turning memoir about memory and matriarchy. I loved this so, so much.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is such an intense experience. I grew up reading MAUS and then later learned about the unsung importance of Francoise Mouly when I saw her at a Penny Stamps lecture at the Michigan Theater. Mouly was the true founder of RAW magazine and had a very strong visual and narrative influence on Spiegelman's work, giving us the Spiegelman we know today.

"I'm Supposed to Protect You from All of This," by Nadja Spiegelman, tells the story of herself, her mother, her grandmother, her great
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was a gift in many ways. A friend ordered it for me and it arrived at my door, ready to be read and savored. As someone who studied women’s memoirs and who has taught and wondered at Spiegelman’s father’s graphic novel Maus, I already had set lenses for entering Nadja’s life. Though there is little of her father in the narrative, he hovered there as I read. And, as memoir, this is a fascinating and complexly layered work.
The book explores generations of mothers and daughters and
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
4.5, actually.

I found myself engrossed in this memoir within moments of starting it, almost to my surprise. Nadja's voice is so compelling and so engrossing - and it makes the potentially-stolid story she's telling, a story of coming to understand her mother and her grandmother, something altogether more electric. The problem with the book, the thing that keeps it from perfection, is that in the final stretch, Nadja recedes from the telling. Many other reviews have noted this and I didn't quite
Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it
The author has a beautiful style - her language is poetic without being overly florid. The stories of her mother, grandmother and great grandmother are explored with interesting depth, winding them together with the others perspectives. The book becomes slightly less interesting when the author ties in her own adolescence but I think that’s only because she’s still not so far removed from it to tell the stories with enough remove for perspective (a decade and change). I’d love to read another ...more
Chloe A-L
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: want-to-buy
this is a book that seemed destined to break my heart. it's a book about mothers, and daughters and families. It's about what it means for a story to be real, about the fallibility and impermanence of memory, and about how memory is the only thing that matters. it's a book about the agony and the joy of being able to know your mother as a person and not just your mother. that's something I won't ever get, and something that I can only speculate on. this book makes me feel like i know what it's ...more
Rene Saller
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well-written and perceptive multi-generational memoir, especially impressive considering that Spiegelman wasn't even 30 when she wrote it. If you listen to the audiobook, you also get to admire Spiegelman's perfect French accent. The stories of four generations of women--Spiegelman's maternal great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and herself--are expertly woven together, and although the book isn't even remotely chronological, it hangs together thematically and structurally. I ...more
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Nadja Spiegelman is the Eisner-award nominated author of the ZIG AND WIKKI graphic series for young children and LOST IN NYC: A SUBWAY ADVENTURE. Her forthcoming memoir, "I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This," will be published by Riverhead Books in August 2016. She currently divides her time between Paris and Brooklyn.
“The things my mother did not see about herself, I did not see, either.” 2 likes
“The past shaped the present, but the present also reshaped the past.” 1 likes
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