Gaby's Reviews > The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir

The Impostor's Daughter by Laurie Sandell
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's review
Jul 18, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: arcs, nonfiction, reviewed-books, summer-reading, graphic-memoirs
Read in July, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Synopsis:

The Imposter's Daughter: A True Memoir is described as a "graphic memoir" because the cartoons are supposed to be largely nonfiction. The work is divided into two main parts. In Part One of The Imposter's Daughter, we follow Laurie Sandell from her childhood hero worship of her father through the slow discovery of his lies and deception to how this experience shaped Laurie's early adult years. Charismatic, good looking and confident, Laurie knew her father to be a former green beret with a law degree from NYU and a PhD from Columbia University who served as an economist and advisor to Henry Kissinger and had grown up with fabulous wealth in Argentina. He was larger than life and full of exciting stories of his past, his teaching career, and the businesses that he was working on. As the eldest and his favorite child, they shared a special bond. But after her father left the post as an economics professor, he spent his time at home and became increasingly paranoid, eccentric controlling. As his life unravelled, so did their closeness. It wasn't until after college and when she was applying for her first credit card that Laurie discovered that her father had taken out credit cards and thousands of dollars of debt in her name. Justifiably upset, she contacted her family - and they learn that he'd taken out credit cards and loans under all of their names. Their house is nearly lost from under them. Laurie's life is fluid and she decides to spend the next four years exploring the world. She travels to Israel, Japan, Jordan, Paris, Egypt, Mexico, and Thailand, undoubtedly breaking hearts while experimenting. She works as a stripper in Tokyo, seduces lesbian women in Israel, and grows addicted to presciption drugs. Laurie returns to America and works as a secretary by day while researching and writing about her father's deceptions at night. Part One ends with the publication of Laurie's article "My Father, the Fraud" in Esquire Magazine.

In Part Two, Laurie starts work at a popular woman's magazine where she excels at celebrity interviews and builds her reputation. She discovers that she has a gift for building relationships with celebrities - "most of them lived in emotional castles surrounded by moats, and I'd been building a tower around myself for thirty-two years." While she builds her professional life, Laurie slowly becomes addicted to prescription drugs. Although her relationship with her father and family deteriorates, but Laurie continues digging into her father's past. Reaching out to distant acquaintances, strangers, and estranged family, Laurie slowly pieces together her father's life.


I had intended to just glance through the book and somehow read it all in one sitting. The first surprise was that the entire work is a graphic memoir - a "nonfiction cartoon" written and illustrated by Laurie Sandell. The book is beautifully done - from the cover and the drawings to the writing and pacing. It worked together so well that I find it hard to believe the story is true, although it likely is, after all it's even called The Imposter's Daughter: A True Memoir. Warning: some of the graphics are explicit. The book targets an adult audience.

This as a fun summer read. I'm looking forward to more of Laurie Sandell's work in the future.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 29, 2009), 256 pages. The book will be available on July 29, 2009 but can be ordered in advance through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Powells.

Courtesy of Hatchette Books Group.

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