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The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir Hardcover – July 29, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this delightfully composed graphic novel, journalist Sandell (Glamour) illustrates a touchingly youthful story about a daughter's gushing love for her father. Using a winning mixture of straightforward comic-book illustrations with a first-person diarylike commentary, Sandell recounts the gradual realization from her young adulthood onward that her charming, larger-than-life Argentine father, bragging of war metals, degrees from prestigious universities and acquaintances with famous people, had lied egregiously to his family about his past and accomplishments. Growing up with her two younger sisters and parents first in California, then in Bronxville, N.Y., the author records signs along the way that her father, a professor of economics with a volatile temperament and autocratic manner, was hiding something, from his inexplicable trips out of town, increasing paranoid isolation, early name change from Schmidt to Sandell, to massive credit-card fraud. Interviewing her father for her first magazine article, the author resolved to check his sources and even flew later to confront his past in Argentina, only to discover the truth. Feeling betrayed, guilty for exposing him and mistrustful in her relationships with men, Sandell numbed herself by abusing Ambien and alcohol. Her depiction of her rehab adventure is rather pat and tidy, and she does not address the notion that her own creativity might have sprung from her father's very duplicity. However, Sandell's method of storytelling is marvelously unique and will surely spark imitators. (July)
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Review

"A stunner. From the opening page of Laurie Sandell's illustrated memoir, I was hooked. This coming of age tale for grownups may be a feast for the eyes, but it's also a sock in the gut-a wrenchingly funny tale of deception, addiction, and what it means to search for true love when you were raised on lies. You'll finish this page-turner in a single night-but the story will stay with you for much longer." (Carole Radziwill, author of What Remains)

"Don't pick up The Impostor's Daughter if you have an urgent looming deadline. You'll start reading and then keep reading till you reach the last page, because this real-life detective story is so compelling, personal, and poignant that you'll end up ignoring your own life and responsibilities. Like I did." (A.J. Jacobs, author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically)

The Impostor's Daughter is the mesmerizing account of Laurie Sandell's hunt for the truth about her father. Maybe he's a con man, possibly he's delusional, but to Laurie he's a larger-than-life figure-the most adventurous father in the world. Compellingly told and wonderfully drawn, The Impostor's Daughter is also the story of Laurie's personal struggle with pop-culture's zeitgeist trifecta: sex, celebrity, and substance abuse. It's a stirring debut. (Nathan Englander, author of The Ministry of Special Cases and For the Relief of Unbearable Urges)

"The Impostor's Daughter is funny, frank, and absolutely engaging. It's about truth and consequences and families and men and women and fame and, well, life itself. It's wonderful." (Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief)

"In this delightfully composed graphic novel, journalist Sandell illustrates a touchingly youthful story about a daughter's gushing love for her father. Using a winning mixture of straightforward comic-book illustrations with a first-person diarylike commentary, Sandell recounts the gradual realization from her young adulthood onward that her charming, larger-than-life Argentine father, bragging of war metals, degrees from prestigious universities and acquaintances with famous people, had lied egregiously to his family about his past and accomplishments.... Sandell's method of storytelling is marvelously unique and will surely spark imitators." (Publishers Weekly)

"Sophisticated and spellbinding, Laurie Sandell's graphic memoir, The Impostor's Daughter, is rife with dramatic family dynamics, secrets, and subterfuges centered around her mysterious, mercurial, Argentine-American father. By uncovering the buried truths of his past life, she claims her own coming-of-age story." (Elle)

"Celebrity journalist Laurie Sandell's absorbing graphic memoir, The Impostor's Daughter, delves into her father's shady past.... This smart, candid book with its vivid illustrations is a must-read." (InStyle)

"[An] eloquent graphic novel." (Time)

"Sandell's wit shines through her clever illustrations and honest prose." (USA Today)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (July 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316033057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316033053
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Scott Manus on August 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Impostor's Daughter is a stunningly original and utterly compelling memoir.
It is original in so many ways. The drawings and the text combined add a depth
and descriptive precision that hits you on so many levels, emotionally, intellectually
and creatively.

As a psychotherapist that specializes in people who have been harmed by living
inside a lie that no one in the family is allowed to name or challenge, I know intimately
that although Ms. Sandell's story is utterly unique and mind blowing, the sad truth is
that so many people have had to survive equally dysfunctional families, though,
her's is uniquely creative in its dysfunction.

I have already used this book in my psychotherapy practice to show people
who are still in the "it wasn't so bad, it wasn't like they ever beat me with a lead pipe" defense
of minimalizing that if you didn't have the worst parents in the world that you have no right
to complain about the authentic pain that you experienced.

As if all you have to do to be a good parent is not physically beat your children.

What makes this book so special is that while it is quite easy to chronicle others
bad behavior, Ms. Sandell doesn't choose the easy way out, that is to say, she never is
vengeful nor in denial about how badly she needs her father merely to be the sweet and
loving man she senses he has the capacity to be, instead of his misguided belief that in
order to be good enough, he had to be extraordinary.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By BermudaOnion VINE VOICE on July 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When Laurie Sandell was a young girl, she idolized her father. As she grew older, she began to realize that he's different from other fathers and she suspected that a lot of what he was saying wasn't true. After college, Laurie discovered that her father had obtained credit under her name and done some other questionable things.

In trying to find herself, Laurie does some questionable things of her own after that - traveling the world looking for love and participating in some outrageous behavior. She finally returned to the states and started working as a secretary. When she told a friend who works in the magazine business, about her father, he suggested she write about him. At about this time, she was having trouble sleeping and her mother suggested she try Ambien.

Laurie wrote an article on her father and it was published anonymously. Even so, it still didn't sit well with her family. When Laurie got a magazine job interviewing celebrities, she started researching her father's past in earnest, even traveling to South America to visit his step-sister. In the meantime, she's became addicted to Ambien. She was in a relationship, but it wasn't really a happy one, yet she couldn't ever break it off.

After interviewing Ashley Judd, Laurie exchanged a few emails with her and opens up to her and Ashley Judd makes a suggestion that changes Laurie's life forever.

The Impostor's Daughter is Laurie Sandell's graphic memoir. What a story she has to tell! When this book first came, I leafed through a couple pages and I was hooked. The story is fantastic and the drawings are too. (You can get an idea of what they're like from the cover.) There are even some of Laurie's childhood drawings included.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is an odd sort of graphic novel -- though, actually, it's a graphic memoir or confessional biography. The author grew up in a home ruled with a heavy hand by her father, who always was the center of attention. According to him, he had multiple graduate degrees, had been a battle hero in Vietnam, had corresponded with the Pope when he was still just a Polish priest, had advised Henry Kissinger, and had fought a duel in his homeland of Argentina. He was also a genius. He regaled Laurie with these stories and she grew dependent on them, but as she reached adulthood he became so controlling she couldn't wait to escape. Which she eventually did, but by way of very risky behavior in her travels around the world. Eventually, she found a niche interviewing celebrities for popular magazines. She had a knack for getting them to open up to her because her years of practice with her father gave her the ability to successfully solicit their stories. But then she began to use her investigative abilities and contacts to check on some of her father's yarns -- and soon discovered that not only was none of it true, he also was an unrepentant con man. Parallel to all this is her on again, off again relationship with Ben, who loves her but who is insufficiently . . . something. If she stayed with him, she says, she "couldn't grow." Or something. It's all sort of an interesting story, and it might make a good movie or dramatic miniseries on TV, but it was really difficult for me to work up any empathy for such self-pitying codependency, added to her addictive personality. That kind of goes for everyone in the family, all of whom seem to have easily forgiven their father's cheating and lies and theft, destroying their credit ratings, alienating what few friends they had. This was especially true of her mother. Did it really never occur to them to call the cops and turn their old man in? There's a limit, but Laurie apparently has never reached it.
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