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Change Me into Zeus's Daughter: A Memoir Paperback – Bargain Price, July 31, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (July 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743202198
  • ASIN: B000C4T082
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,372,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the tradition of Bastard Out of Carolina and Angela's Ashes, Change Me into Zeus's Daughter chronicles a child's coming of age in an abusive and dirt-poor environment. With the gripping narrative drive of both of those bestselling books, Barbara Robinette Moss's candid yet lyrical account takes hold of our hearts and doesn't let go until the final page. Her story juxtaposes heart-rending adversity with the playful chaos of eight siblings growing up in the 1960s South, with its creeping kudzu and soybean fields, its forthright and sometimes peculiar inhabitants, and its boiling racial tensions.

The hardships related here are both familiar and unique: the Christmas presents exchanged for drink money, the failed businesses, the decrepit shacks that served as temporary homes, the disturbing early-morning discipline. Under the tyrannical rule of a father who "inflicted pain recreationally, both physical and emotional," the only bright spot in Moss's childhood was her mother, Dorris. Slavishly devoted to her husband ("she seemed to crave him as much as he craved alcohol"), Dorris held the family together by absorbing most of the abuse. But in the end she lacked the courage to leave him, and her children had to act as their own protectors. As if poverty and her father's mistreatment weren't enough of a burden, Moss also had to contend with a face disfigured by malnutrition. As a result, she sought refuge in whatever elusive beauty she could find: the poetry her mother taught as a substitute for material things; the fertile, red Alabama soil; the love of her baby sister Janet. Her urge to create beauty and her longing to embody it culminate in surgery that transforms her face but brings with it a crisis of identity.

In her outpouring of memories, Moss occasionally gets lost in her tale, embedding flashback within flashback. More problematic is the portrayal of her father: he's relentlessly cruel until a near-fatal beating, after which he begins to briefly connect with his children. For us, it's too late, and we can only react to his death with a sigh of relief. But these minor quibbles are just that. Moss's extraordinary memoir enthralls us from its alarming introduction--in which Dorris feeds her starving children a meal of potentially poisonous seeds--to its poignant conclusion. --Lisa Costantino --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In the sepia-toned photograph on the cover of this touching memoir, Moss, her brothers and sisters, and their mother squint into the sun in a tableau that evokes Depression-era images of the rural South. On the back cover, a colorful self-portrait by the author shows a beautiful woman with huge hazel eyes. The contrast between the two images is symbolic of Moss's journey from poverty and despair to artistic and personal accomplishment. Many of the difficulties Moss suffered as a child will remind readers of Angela's Ashes, although the setting for her family's grinding poverty is rural Alabama. She remembers vividly the day her mother tasted corn and bean seeds coated with poisonous insecticides, figuring that if she survived, she could let her children appease their hunger. She lived, and the children ate the seeds. Moss's alcoholic father would often come home in a drunken rage and rouse her and her eight brothers and sisters to punish them far into the night for imaginary misdeeds. Moss was singled out for being left-handed; he attempted to "cure" the problem by tying down her left hand. Her mother, although weak, tried to protect the children from their father's irrational behavior. Most humiliating to Moss was the abnormal growth of her facial bones because of malnutrition and lack of dental and medical care. But Moss's childhood was not all despair and deprivation: she describes with nostalgic warmth the good times she shared with her siblings, and her mother's appreciation of music and poetry, which fueled Moss's aspirations. Moss has structured her memoir in layered, impressionistic flashbacks gracefully revealing the joys and sorrows of her remarkable life's journey. Photos. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Ms. Moss is the master of the art of the memoir.
Suzanne Foglesong
Her book made me feel as though I were right beside her, knowing how she felt.
lucie
It is a story of triumph and a story of elegance.
rhessa o. deriso

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

130 of 130 people found the following review helpful By ALICE SKALA on November 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
and I found the book to be a moving and entertaining memoir. I am sure it will become a bestseller. However; this story does not belong to Barbara alone. It also belongs to her Mother and her seven siblings. I know this because I am the author's sister. When I first learned Barbara was going to write this book I was very uneasy. I had put this life in the past and did not want to re-live it. It was very painful and humiliating. When I received my copy I knew then that I would read it. The book got thrown against the wall many times, once my wonderful husband even took the book away from me because it brought back so many painful memories, some in the book, most that are not, many I had forgotten and did not ever want to remember again. But it also served to remind me of what a special person my mother was. This story is about the determination of one woman who watched all her dreams shatter but remained strong in an era which did not recognize alcoholism as a disease or child abuse as a problem. She was my rock, my best friend and the one person who kept me sane through the madness when I was not even sure I deserved to have a place on this earth. I am sure she is in a special place in heaven where she can forever sing the beautiful music she loved so much because she has already lived through hell on earth. I miss her every day of my life. I cannot speak for my brothers and sisters, but I know that each and every one of us earned the right to be called "survivor". I consider myself to have had two lives, the one I lived before the day my father put that gun to his head and pulled the trigger and the one that started the same day. Because for me that was the day the abuse ended. I was 38 years old. This book is destined to be a bestseller and I am very proud of my sister.Read more ›
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Jennings on September 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This wonderful book has so many surprises. First among them is the undaunted spirit and strength of a girl who suffers through a hellish childhood and can write beautifully about it without wallowing in regret and elegiac gloom. The humor and apparent lack of bitterness is truly amazing as Ms. Moss relates the horror of an abusive alcoholic father, a numbed but loving mother, and the suffocating poverty of her rural South. This is not a depressive book. And there is no request or undertone for pity.
Simply put, this is a must read for those who were moved by Angela's Ashes or similar books. This is America. This is a woman. This is a disadvantaged girl who perservered. To have written this book without a sense of loss or regret is an astonishing feat.
The writing is clear and uncomfortably descriptive. You will feel her hunger, pain, fear and shame. And you will learn her incredible ability to cope and triumph.
This is a wonderful book.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Writing at its best, is lived rather than read. Occasionally we have the privilege to be drawn into someone's experiences with such power and clarity that we are possessed by their history and translated into it. Barbara Moss' story makes us members of the family as she weaves gripping tales of poverty, alcoholism, sickness and neglect into a book that you can't stop reading. As difficult as the circumstances are, the story is never without hope. The characters are in many ways ordinary and flawed and in spite of that, are amazingly appealing, interesting, funny, and often heroic as they struggle with the situations that compose their existence. In her writing she is able to depict seemingly ordinary events, turning them into the human essences that touch our deepest emotional levels, where we live and laugh and cry and love.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
A brilliant depiction of alcoholism, codependence, living with facial disfigurement and grinding poverty for a white Alabama family. Within the squalor, terror, and degradation burn powerful flames of erudition, dignity, and love. This book is astonishingly devoid of self-pity.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By felicia mcmahon on January 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book, both informative and poignant, is one that I plan to recommend to students in anthropology, education, sociology and to instructors of courses dealing with issues affecting modern family life in America. With her frank, straightforward writing style, the author causes every reader to realize that not all American children have access to the American Dream. This book makes one recognize that it is time for each American to get involved in correcting inequality in the U.S. during the next millenium.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. Henderson on October 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is being compared to 'Angela's Ashes' in every review I've seen, and with good reason. Barbara's father shared numerous traits with Frank McCourt's, and the hardships, poverty and many other difficulties faced by both families were somewhat similar. So many sad, crazy, incredible and unbelievable things happen to this family, though - it's one of those 'truth is stranger than fiction' things. If you'd seen a Hollywood movie (and there may very well be one eventually) about this family, you'd say 'yeah, right, all of that couldn't actually happen to a family in real life'. But it did, and their story is amazing, mostly in the sense that it appears that most of the children turned out OK. Much credit is given to their remarkable mother's spirit, teaching the children about art, poetry, theatre and music despite the enormous gulf between such things and this family's daily existence. But I think the kids themselves leaned on each other, and drew from a tough inner strength. Read this book! I admire Barbara Robinette Moss and her entire family.
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