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.
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"This memoir of intertwined generations of fraught mother-daughter relationships is an absolute pleasure to listen to. Nadja Spiegelman's performance is thoughtful and charming regardless of whether she's recounting a part of the story that is dark with cruelty and neglect or a part dazzling with joyful confidence. Spiegelman is the daughter of Franoise Mouly, the art director of THE NEW YORKER, who moved to New York as a teenager to flee her mother, JosŽe, in Paris. Spiegelman extensively interviews her mother and grandmother, growing closer to both. Their stories frequently contradict each other or historical events, and truth is more of a matter of memory and perception. Spiegelman's lovely voice conveys empathy, self-awareness, and curiosity, and she flawlessly shifts back and forth from French to English. A.B. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"
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