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I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This : A Memoir
by Nadja Spiegelman


Overview -

A Vogue Best Book of the Year
-What Ferrante did for female friends--exploring the tumult and complexity their relationships could hold--Spiegelman sets out to do for mothers and daughters. She's essentially written My Brilliant Mom.- --Slate
A memoir of mothers and daughters--and mothers as daughters--traced through four generations, from Paris to New York and back again.  Read more...


 
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More About I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This by Nadja Spiegelman
 
 
 
Overview

A Vogue Best Book of the Year
-What Ferrante did for female friends--exploring the tumult and complexity their relationships could hold--Spiegelman sets out to do for mothers and daughters. She's essentially written My Brilliant Mom.- --Slate
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, Maus creator Art Spiegelman, and even more than most mothers, hers--French-born New Yorker art director Francoise Mouly--exerted a force over reality that was both dazzling and daunting. As Nadja's body changed and -began to whisper to the adults around me in a language I did not understand, - their relationship grew tense. Unwittingly, they were replaying a drama from her mother's past, a drama Nadja sensed but had never been told. Then, after college, her mother suddenly opened up to her. Francoise recounted her turbulent adolescence caught between a volatile mother and a playboy father, one of the first plastic surgeons in France. The weight of the difficult stories she told her daughter shifted the balance between them.
It had taken an ocean to allow Francoise the distance to become her own person. At about the same age, Nadja made the journey in reverse, moving to Paris determined to get to know the woman her mother had fled. Her grandmother's memories contradicted her mother's at nearly every turn, but beneath them lay a difficult history of her own. Nadja emerged with a deeper understanding of how each generation reshapes the past in order to forge ahead, their narratives both weapon and defense, eternally in conflict. Every reader will recognize herself and her family in I'm Supposed to Protect You From All This, a gorgeous and heartbreaking memoir that helps us to see why sometimes those who love us best hurt us most.



 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781594631924
  • ISBN-10: 1594631921
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books
  • Publish Date: August 2016
  • Page Count: 384
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Women
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Literary

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-05-30
  • Reviewer: Staff

The author, daughter of Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman (Maus) and Françoise Mouly, a publisher and acclaimed art director at the New Yorker, places her family—particularly its women—under a high-powered microscope in this penetrating memoir. As a child, Speigelman often sensed that her mother’s family was “dangerous,” but her inquiries were brushed aside by the independent and hard-working Mouly, who suggested that she would enlighten her daughter at a later time. When Mouly finally sits down to describe her life in detail, the protective gloves come off. In heart-to-heart talks with her mother and with her grandmother (Josee, a divorcee who lives on a houseboat on the Seine) that take place over a number of years, Spiegelman probes the undercurrent of uneasiness she’s felt her whole life. Mouly fled her Parisian family at age 18, moving to New York to escape her mother’s criticism as well as her father’s inappropriate behaviors; she eventually turned her critical eye on her own daughter, who struggled with compulsive eating and other issues. When Spiegelman begins interviewing her grandmother, however, she finds a loving woman who doesn’t fit Mouly’s recollections. Memories overlap and contradict as the author unwinds the past; even some of Spiegelman’s memories, she realizes, may be imagined. As the three women own and apologize for past and present mistakes and misunderstandings, this intricate family tale evokes a growing sense that forgiveness and love are ultimately far more important than facts. (Aug.)

 
BookPage Reviews

A mother-daughter reckoning

BookPage Nonfiction Top Pick, August 2016

Nadja Spiegelman’s brilliant excavation into four generations of her maternal line is nothing short of astonishing. The daughter of Art Spiegelman (Maus) and Françoise Mouly (art director of The New Yorker), Spiegelman would have a compelling coming-of-age story to tell simply on the basis of her parentage and her upbringing among artists. I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This, however, is unusually sensitive to the transmission of family secrets and wounds between generations. Rather than tell the story of an individual daughter, this elegant, beautifully structured memoir tells the story of four generations of daughters locked in painful battle with their mothers. 

The focus of the narrative, at first, is the glamorous and frightening Mouly. Her sudden rages and overt favoring of her son over her daughter could—in other hands—be grounds for a revenge memoir. Her maternal cruelty, particularly concerning food and weight gain, is honestly depicted by her daughter. Despite these clearly painful experiences, Spiegelman’s drive is to understand her mother, not condemn her. Alternating chapters that focus on each woman’s adolescence show how both were targets for their mothers’ anger. In Mouly’s case, she fled from France to New York at age 18 to escape the mire of family life.

Spiegelman’s desire to learn the truth about her mother’s childhood takes her to Paris and her grandmother Josée, yet another strong-willed and sharp-tongued woman. As she pursues Josée’s childhood story, as well as her mother Mina’s story, she learns that certain patterns and connections have haunted each of these pairs of mothers and daughters, even when they recall events differently.

A meditation on memory and the nature of truth as much as a family history, I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This introduces a stunning new voice in the field of memoir.

 

This article was originally published in the August 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews