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My Lie: A True Story of False Memory Hardcover – September 14, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"In this terrifying, haunting, and controversial memoir, award-winning journalist Meredith Maran delves into the fascinating subject of the recovered memory movement.... Maran's not just shockingly honest, she's also funny. Her refusal to whitewash her own behavior, her fierce ability to expose all sides of the issue (she doesn't deny that horrific abuse does occur and should be punished), and her compassion for the abused as well as those still falsely imprisoned as abusers opens up a dialogue about memory, belief, and past- and present-day culture that is as riveting as it is important." (Boston Globe, September 21, 2010)

"Maran's story is so tension-filled that I want to keep some of the twists out of this review, allowing readers of this remarkable book to discover them apart from me." (San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 2010)


Only a writer as fierce and incisive as Meredith Maran could have written a book as intimate, dark, bracing and revelatory as My Lie.
MICHAEL CHABON, author of Manhood for Amateurs; and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Meredith Maran is a wonderful journalist and storyteller, profoundly honest, direct, witty, savvy and compassionate.
ANNE LAMOTT, author of Grace (Eventually) and Bird By Bird

My Lie is the brave and riveting "inside story" of the most devastating mental health controversy of the century. I couldn't put it down.
ELIZABETH F. LOFTUS, PHD, co-author of Witness for the Defense and The Myth of Repressed Memory

To admit sin is hard. To own a grave sin committed against a loved one is more difficult still. To be able to write about it with honesty and grace is extraordinary. My Lie by Meredith Maran tells a story no reader will—or should—forget.
KATHRYN HARRISON, author of The Kiss and The Mother Knot

Meredith Maran is fearless, and My Lie is a shockingly honest, stunningly nuanced book. Every parent, and everyone who has a parent, should read this searing father-daughter story.
AYELET WALDMAN, author of Bad Mother and Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

"This marvelous, searing book held me in its thrall from the moment I read the Prologue, and never let go. Meredith Maran has written a page-turner of a memoir, at once brave and heartbreaking. Who among us hasn't questioned her own memory? In navigating her family history, Maran becomes a detective, and MY LIE reads like a mystery all the more suspenseful because the writer has taken great care to tell the truth."
DANI SHAPIRO, author of Devotion: A Memoir


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470502142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470502143
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

"A family's world is irrevocably rocked when an old female lover from Mom's past reappears, in Meredith Maran's sexy, audacious, politically charged, and sure-to-be-talked-about first novel, A THEORY OF SMALL EARTHQUAKES. Ah, l'amour, l'amour."--Vanity Fair, February 2012

"A THEORY OF SMALL EARTHQUAKES by Meredith Maran: a fictional parenting triangle that challenges assumptions."--Reader's Digest, February 2012

"Meredith Maran's wonderful new novel, A THEORY OF SMALL EARTHQUAKES, is what Franzen's Freedom would be, if it were free."--Rebecca Walker

I could not put A THEORY OF SMALL EARTHQUAKES down. Even with my eyes practically crossing at 2am, I had to know what was going to happen! And I found the ending -- the ambiguity of it -- very satisfying, even though I wanted to know more. It was true to life, painful, beautifully done. Very strong, believable characters who I won't soon forget.--Dani Shapiro

Meredith Maran is a book critic whose reviews appear in People, Salon, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle, an award-winning journalist, and the author of several bestselling nonfiction books, including Class Dismissed and What It's Like To Live Now. The mother of two sons and grandmother of the cutest baby on earth, she lives in Oakland with her wife. A Theory of Small Earthquakes is her first novel.

To reach Meredith:
On Twitter: @meredithmaran

For more information:

Author photo ©Lisa Keating Photography

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Been here. Did this myself - I didn't write a book, but fell in with a bad therapist who eventually induced MPD and false memories within me, among many other of his patients. By the time I discovered my mental illness was created within therapy and had to face my trusted doctor's betrayal of trust, I became cemented in shock and despair. I was ashamed too. There weren't any books out to debunk this thing when I became ill. I am grateful that more and more are surfacing now though. I hope you found healing in your writing Meredith - as well as comfort in the knowledge you're helping others. Thank you.
Post Script. Please be aware that anon's marketing campaign remains grossly inaccurate.
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Format: Hardcover
I tried to find this book in the library system here in Mass. but was unable to do so. And so I bought it. I shall donate it to my local library. It is a very informative book and well worth reading.
The book covers the problem of Recovered Memory Therapy from the perspective of the client of a therapist or therapists. It tells about Ms. Maran's journey into RMT and the fall out of her relationships with her family. Her father took the brunt of her "recovered memories." One of the worst things you can do to a parent, especially a father, is to accuse him of sexual abuse. They have no defence. All they can do is deny it but then with that type of therapy they get hit with "your in denial." A no win situation.
Fortunately Ms. Maran started to question her "memories" and realized what she had done. She could have left it there but went the full nine yards with this book. An apology to her father. And he accepted her apology.
I am biased against RMT. My daughter got into it and has cut off her entire famly for the last twenty years. I know what she "remembers" is not true but she was and is suggestible and trusting. I pray some day she and the other misguided clients of less than reputable therapists will come home to their families. My daughter will always be welcome.
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Format: Hardcover
I can't remember the last time I stayed up far too late into the night for a book of non-fiction, but My Lie had me doing just that. From the title, I expected an intimate tell-all memoir, and I did get that. But I found it a surprisingly - and refreshingly - measured and balanced one. Part of what made this revelatory story so compelling was the mix of personal story with societal examination. Yes, there are children who were abused. But there are also families that were torn apart by "memories" that never actually happened. Meredith Maran's intimate telling of her own personal story, mixed with considerable discussion of the science of the brain and press clips from sources including Time Magazine, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, puts the issue of "recovered memory" into a context that made me think, and want to know that which isn't, unfortunately, always knowable.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a short book, but it raises and deals so inadequately with so many issues that a thorough review would be almost as long as the book itself! Anyone seeking balance and to fill in the gaps might want to check out: "Trauma and Recovery" by Judith Harman; "Betrayal Trauma Theory" by Jennifer Freyd; sections of "Invisible Heroes" by Belleruth Naparstek; the website of the Leadership Council; the website of Jim Hopper, which provides links to and abstracts of many scholarly articles on recovered memory; the Recovered Memory Corroboration Project; the newest edition of "Courage to Heal", which summarizes some recent research; and "Recovered Memory and the Daubert Criteria: Recovered Memory as Professionally Tested, Peer Reviewed and Accepted in the Relevant Scientific Community". This article by Constance Dalenberg clearly lays out the middle ground, ignored by Maran, where the extensive evidence for traumatic amnesia and accurate recovered memory is acknowledged, as well as the existence of false memories. (If you know of other resources, I'd love to hear about them.) [March 2015: Bessel van der Kolk's "The Body Keeps the Score" gives a readable and helpful account of the growing body of scientific research into the ways trauma affects the brain and the differences between traumatic and normal memory.]
Although "My Lie" seems on casual reading to be written with clarity, I found it to be tremendously tangled. Meredith Maran describes a painful journey from a need for certainty (specifically, that her father sexually abused her) to a kind of resolution in exploring and accepting uncertainty and complexity in life. But I don't think she had got there at the time of writing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I finished this book with tears in my eyes. Tears of sadness for the heartache, pain and even prison time caused by the false accusations spawned by the repressed memory hysteria. Tears of anger because so many supposed professionals in mental health and law enforcement would be so gullible or so greedy that they would fan the flames of this psychological malpractice. And tears of hope that this book could help close this ugly chapter in American culture and my life. I am one of the thousands of fathers who were falsely accused of molesting their daughters based on the crackpot theory of repressed memories. I have had no meaningful contact with my daughter for almost twenty years and now have two grandchildren I may never meet. "My Lie" gives a cogent account of how this happened from a woman who has a unique perspective on this destructive phenomenon. I hope the book will be a powerful counterweight to "The Courage to Heal", a poisonous, speculative, unscientific volume of blather that has played a major role in fracturing families.
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