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Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  4,665 ratings  ·  759 reviews
A daughter’s tale of living in the thrall of her magnetic, complicated mother, and the chilling consequences of her complicity.

On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me.

Adrienne instantly became
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover and Me is the story of Adrienne Brodeur’s tumultuous relationship with her mother, Malabar. The fateful night setting their relationship on its course occurs when Adrienne is just 14 — Her mother wakes her up from sleeping to inform Adrienne she’s just been kissed by Ben Souther, her husband’s best friend. Adrienne becomes an accomplice to this secret affair and while not wholly responsible, helps keep it alive for years to come, as she perpetually seeks her ...more
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
[2.8] This flimsy memoir about a mother/daughter relationship was a painless, but hollow reading experience. I felt some sympathy for the confusion the author experienced but was mostly detached. Takeaway: You need more than messed-up mother to create a memorable memoir.
I don’t remember much about the experience of reading this book beyond the fact that I had trouble putting it down.

I love memoirs. I sometimes struggle to read nonfiction because I love stories, but there’s a specific part of my love of stories that’s dedicated to those that are true. Autobiographies and memoirs, even of mundane or unknown lives, will never cease to intrigue me, because people and their existences are endlessly fascinating.

This was no exception.

This particular story is
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Soooooooooooooooooooooo apparently this is a thing . . . . .

Which of course I didn’t know about but somehow was well-prepared for anyway due to my lack of timely reviewing. Here’s a selection that I read on September 1st and never wrote imaged up.

Full disclosure: I was offered an advanced copy of Wild Game and took it as soon as I saw the comparison to . . . . .

I don't think I'll ever stop doubting why Average Joes feel their
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Adrienne is fourteen years old and asleep one summer night when her mother wakes her to say that she has been kissed by Ben Souther.

After that moment, Adrienne becomes her mother’s closest friend, ally, and enabler in this affair. Did I mention Ben Souther is Adrienne’s father’s best friend?

The affair continues for years, but not without its consequences for everyone involved, including Adrienne when she embarks on her own marriage.

Adrienne is brutally honest about her journey in the
Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Jessica Turner

I’m not a big nonfiction reader, but I devoured Wild Game (pun intended). As a mother of three kids, I’m acutely aware of the role I have in their life and appreciate the sacred gift to usher them into adulthood. Maybe that explains my shock and utter dismay over this true story of the author Adrienne’s relationship with her mother, Malabar. The ways in which Malabar repeatedly crossed lines that should never be crossed was unconscionable.

In Wild Game, Malabar
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
As we walk through life, we sometimes fail to give a voice to the sharp-thorned bramble that attaches itself and clings to our very being.

In Wild Game, Adrienne Brodeur reflects upon the very disjointed and convoluted relationship with her mother, Malabar. Whether with full conscience or inadvertently, we tend to leave fingerprints of our own shortcomings and quirks on the minds of our children. We will come to find that Malabar opened it all full-throttle.

Fourteen is a tender age of becoming.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oh wow- you know that feeling where you finish a book and need to take a few days to process? That was WILD GAME. This memoir takes place on Cape Cod and begins when the author, then age 14, is woken by her mother who tells her that a man who she was not married to kissed her. The man is Ben Souther, a married man and her husbands lifelong friend. The author gets sucked into being an accomplice in her mother’s affair- and the entanglement leads to a lifetime of consequences.

I really, really
Gretchen Rubin
I LOVED this memoir, couldn't put it down! Elizabeth and I loved it so much that we chose it for the next Happier Podcast Book Club. Read along, join in, we're talking to Adrienne Brodeur in the new year. The subtitle says it all!
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Memoir 11 for Nonfiction November and this is a captivating read! I had to keep reminding myself it was a true story, about the author's mother who embarks on an affair with her husband's best friend but drags her daughter into it. It's also about mothers and daughters, waspy Cape Cod culture, and finding your own path. If you go to the beach anytime soon, this is the book to take with you!

I received a copy from the publisher and the book came out October 15, 2019.
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First of all yay me for finishing my first non-fiction of #nonfictionnovember

I was thoroughly engaged in this emotional and poignant memoir! I listen to it on audio and it was simply brilliant! And there is a bonus interview with the author at the end that was just the icing on the cake!

More detailed review to come, but I strongly encourage you to pick this one up!
Ellen ✦ Book Bellas ✦
“Don’t ever forget that you and I are two halves of one whole.”

This story is beautiful and tragic and hopeful and all the things! I applaud the author for writing her story with such tenderness and grace. What could have been a salacious and angry retelling instead is a remarkably compelling and satisfying tale.

The author grew up in Boston and Cape Cod, the daughter of a brilliant and talented mother who was a well-known cook. Her cooking and food play a central role in this book, as the
Brandon Forsyth
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The comparisons to THE GLASS CASTLE are deserved. Not since that book have we had a memoir that is this richly observed, full of poignant detail and heart-stopping sentences. Don’t miss this one.
Peter Rock
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Malabar, the mother, is the most complicated character I've experienced in quite some time. Her actions are so hard to accept, yet the writing itself demonstrates the love of her daughter, and this draws the reader in, too. This storytelling so ably demonstrates the way family relationships shift and change over time. Remarkable accomplishment, rife with secrets so human. I felt kind of like an accomplice, myself.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
I understand that the author had a narcissistic, catty, every-bad-female-stereotype-put-into-one-horrid-woman mother, and I sympathize with her.

However, other than the relationship between the author and her mother, this is a story about an extremely privileged woman (and her family)--who regularly summers in beach houses, cares so much about a piece of jewelry that it defines her relationship with her mother, and was just planning on her parents financially supporting her when she upended her
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Family dysfunction! Who doesn’t have a skeleton or two in their family closet??? Adrienne Brodeurwrites about her family dysfunction, which left a significant emotional scar on her as she grew up. At the age of 14, Adrienne is woken up in the middle of the night by her mother Malabar, who excitedly confesses that “Ben” has just kissed her. Ben is Malabar’s husband’s best friend and is also married. Malabar chooses her young daughter as a confident to her illicit affair and manipulates her so ...more
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"'Tell me what it's like,' I said, even though we'd had this conversation before and I'd witnessed firsthand how the volatile forces of passion and infidelity had give my mother exuberance. I just loved to hear her talk about it." Pg. 42

Would you give up your life if you thought it would make your parents happy?

Adrienne was too young to debate this question when her mother confided in her about the blossoming affair with her husband's best friend. She spent the next 10 years devoting herself to
Disclaimer: The publisher sent me an ARC.

Brodeur writers in her preface that “a buried truth, that’s all a lie really is”.

The sentence could be used to describe more than a lie but also family relationships. All families have secrets and all families are unhappy in entirely different ways, and despite how Tolstoy started that saying, I will even say all happy families are so in different ways – in fact, you can be a happy and unhappy family at the same time.

For instance, if you could travel
Fred Shaw
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title is what attracted me, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was, however, pleasantly surprised.

While enjoying this audio book, I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Fourteen year old Adrienne is her mother Malabar’s best friend and confidant. Not the other way around. Adrienne’s stepfather had been ill, having had several strokes and was recovering with difficulties. At a dinner party with cocktails and multiple bottles of wine, Malabar was blatantly flirting with her husband’s best
Basic B's Guide
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
For fans of Glass Castle, I finally have one for you. Over the years I’ve been disappointed by the various books compared to Glass Castle. Its one of my all-time favorites, so quite understandable that its hard to measure up. One of the things that I loved about Jeannette Walls story was her acceptance of her family, maturity and growth as a human from her life trials. I have a hard time with bitterness and grudges. Its quite powerful and encouraging to see a person move past these trials, only ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, nonfiction, ampersand
An immensely readable memoir about growing up with a narcissist mother. While it was a quick read, the author's literary background served an effective emotional punch, worthy of the trauma she suffered at the hands of her mother.

I'm not sure if this will be corrected for the final release (I read this as an ARC) but Brodeaur makes a point of changing the names of most of the people in her life for the book (explained in the introduction), but then goes on to thank them all by name in the
Jennifer Haupt
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-love
I had the excellent fortune of receiving an ARC of Adrienne Brodeur's masterful memoir. I keep referring to it as a novel because, honestly, I'm not a huge fan of memoir and this narrator--this story--drew me into a different world with fascinating characters. Brodeur writes about her manipulative bigger-than-life mother with such love and tenderness. She also writes about her younger self with the tenderness of a mother. Trust me, you want to pre-order this October release and put it on your ...more
Katherine Riley
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I felt such deep relief while reading this intense memoir, at seeing such an intensely flawed mother-daughter relationship expressed so well in writing. I applaud the author for her careful and precise rendering of an unusual, painful and lifelong experience. It reads like the best fiction.
Lindsay Cole
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I’m going to need a few days to process this before I write my review but wow wow WOW this was incredible.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An achingly honest memoir by a daughter whose mother has no boundaries. Thank goodness Rennie healed from this. A fascinating and sad book that is utterly unputdownable.
Denise  Reed
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't read that much non-fiction (one of my goals for 2020 is to change that!), but this book gave me all the feels - at times, I loathed some of the characters, other times I empathized with them, and so many times, I would read a paragraph and think, "Yes! That is so true!" I love when a book can make me want to get out my old yellow highlighter and mark it up for future reference.

In the category of over-the-top dysfunctional families, this family should be nominated for an Emmy. While
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Wild Game” tells a story that could easily be mistaken for fiction. But it’s a much more powerful and remarkable story because it’s true. As a fourteen year old, the author is drawn into her mother’s affair as her confidante and enabler. The affair between her mother and her step-father’s best friend continues for years with Brodeur as a willing accomplice. This is not a salacious, bitter, or vengeful memoir but one told with grace and compassion. In an interview Brodeur said “My mother had a ...more
Erica Bauermeister
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is extraordinarily difficult to write a beautiful, compassionate book about a difficult childhood. The Glass Castle, The Liar's Club, Wild -- all take pain and turn it into something powerful and lyrical. That's exactly what Adrienne Brodeur does in Wild Game. She looks a twisted mother-daughter relationship straight in the eye, examines its complexity, is unsparing in both her honesty and her love. From the moment Malabar wakes up her 14-year-old daughter in the middle of the night and draws ...more
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I could not put down this riveting, gorgeously written account of what it is like to be raised by a narcissist.

This is the second memoir in a row I've read about a child trying to earn the love of her wealthy parent, the first being Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden. This was a thorough accident, but they happen to be good companion pieces to each other. (Wild Game is the more cohesive of the two.) T Kira and Adrienne should have a spa day with Tiffany Trump. I think
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Bookish First Rea...: Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur 1 7 Oct 22, 2019 01:27PM  
Book of The Month: Wild Game 1 17 Aug 31, 2019 10:48AM  
Goodreads Librari...: please combine editions of this book (I think) 3 17 Jun 01, 2019 06:30AM  

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Adrienne Brodeur began her career in publishing as the cofounder, with filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, of the National Magazine Award–winning Zoetrope: All-Story. She has worked as a book editor and is currently the executive director of Aspen Words.
“Loneliness is not about how many people you have around. It’s about whether or not you feel connected. Whether or not you’re able to be yourself.” 7 likes
“As any magician knows, it is not the smoke and mirrors that trick people; it is that the human mind makes assumptions and misunderstands them as truths.” 3 likes
More quotes…