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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.
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.
Somewhat interesting if you enjoy reading about an extremely poor family from the 50's to the 70's. I thought it was a little long and drawn out. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Linda708
A haunting, wonderfully written memoir about a girl growing up in extreme poverty in Alabama, in the 60s, with an alcoholic father and a mother who wouldn't-or couldn't-leave him. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Owlmaiden
Book arrived quickly in good shape. I read the compelling, sad story of this woman's life. She was able to find humor in the terrible family life and related it often, which... Read morePublished 13 months ago by A. Kemper
As soon as I began to read the first page of this book, it was hard to put it down. It is the true story of the the author. Read morePublished 16 months ago by J. Johnston
I loved this book. Well written and very interesting. I will definitely read her next book. I am a fan.Published 19 months ago by Ever444
I read this book in one sitting. Oh my gosh Barbara Robinette Moss weaves an incredible journey of her family's lives both painful and beautiful. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Judith A. Middlebrooks
Memoirs are real life stories and the only kind to read. Anyway that is what I like.
Again don't have anymore to say and minimum words is a pain to a person that is helping... Read more
This was a very good book. Easy to read and the author is a great story teller. I recommend this book.Published on June 16, 2013 by Jody
I love childhood memoirs and I loved "The Glass Castle" and "Blackbird" but "Change Me Into Zeus Daughter" just didn't do it for me. Read morePublished on December 14, 2012 by J. C. Goldenberg