I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This: A Memoir from Riverhead Books

I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This: A Memoir from Riverhead Books
I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This: A Memoir from Riverhead Books (click images to enlarge)

I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This: A Memoir from Riverhead Books

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Description of I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This: A Memoir by...

Nadja Spiegelman's new memoir is an attempt to decode her mother's wounds: "The past was always there on her body, but I couldn't see it. ... It was underneath everything else: the blueprint we both carried."

Read the complete Truthdig review

Manufacturer Description

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 Françoise 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. Françoise 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 Françoise 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. 

An Amazon Best Book of August 2016: Nadja Spiegelman--daughter of Maus creator Art Spiegelman and New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly--is no different from many daughters out there who have fraught relationships with their mothers. But not many mothers would agree to do what the Mouly matriarchs did—be interviewed for a book about their lives, a project Nadja hoped would answer some painful questions, and begin to bridge the emotional divides between them. The result is the poignant I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This, not just a memoir about mothers and daughters (and grandmothers), but a story about stories and the malleability of memory. Spiegelman discovers that both her mother’s and grandmother’s accounts of the same events were often vastly (and heartbreakingly) different, yet neither was being more or less genuine. We interpret memories through the lens of our emotional state and experiences, and over the years we overwrite certain details—adding color here, omitting something there—creating telling palimpsests that help explain who we are and why we do what we do. Spiegelman is a skilled writer, especially considering the thorny material. Moreover, you get a sense that she accomplished what she set out to do. In a larger context, it also serves as a valuable reminder to try and understand the motivation behind other people’s actions, not to mention our own. As this memoir attests, therein lies forgiveness, and the fortitude to forge ahead. --Erin Kodicek, The Amazon Book Review