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Who Do You Think You Are?: A Memoir Paperback – April 28, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416543066
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416543060
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #951,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Myers (v-p, brand programs for the New York Times) considered herself a daddy's girl, until the death of her father when she was only 11 left her particularly lonely. In this dark though moving book, she explains that she never told her two younger sisters of her loneliness and found her mother's unpredictable cruelty truly bewildering. Although this was a working-class Jewish family in Queens in the 1960s and '70s, it wasn't the sort featured in storybooks. Her parents chain-smoked and fought endlessly, slinging curses at each other without a thought of their children listening. Alyse got herself into a gifted high school in Manhattan, found herself part-time jobs and enrolled in an affordable city college. It was only after she married and had a child herself that she started to understand her father had been a philanderer and her mother used morphine to cope. The greatest gift she gave her daughter was the determination to create a different sort of life for herself. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Bad parenting has prompted many a memoir; Myers’ is the latest. The eldest of three daughters, Myers was the one labeled by her beautiful, blue-eyed mother as the most likely to give her grief. The lament was largely unjustified. Myers was a smart, studious kid whose greatest crimes were her unconditional love for her father (a charmer and cad who disappeared without warning for long periods of time) and a persistent insistence that her mother should better her lackluster life. Myers’ mother hit her with a strap, and once, when Myers was 13, threw her out of their Queens apartment and told her never to come back. (The teen stayed at a neighbor’s down the hall; upon her return, her mother didn’t seem to care where she’d been.) After her mother’s death, Myers gains possession of a mysterious wooden box her mother had forbidden her to open. She hopes its contents will help explain her mother’s mean spirit and malaise. Myers, an executive at the New York Times, conveys a chilling childhood in crisp, candid prose. --Allison Block --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Not at all a nurturing mother, but then that did not shock or surprise me.
Lingering Librarian
I read it in one sitting because, from the first page, I literally could not put it down.
Amester17
I think we all can see some of ourselves and our childhoods in Alyse's story.
Grace L

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Amester17 on April 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
'Who Do You Think You Are?' is a beautifully written book. I read it in one sitting because, from the first page, I literally could not put it down. It is such a BRAVE book: it dares to look at that most sacrosanct -- and mythologized -- relationship: mother and daughter. And it tells a truth: that not all of us like our mothers. And not all mothers like their children.

The book begins with the mother's funeral. The only thing the author wants is a wooden box that has been hidden in her mother's closet for as long as she can remember. She takes the box but does not open it, afraid of the secrets contained within. We then flash back to the 60s in a poorer neighborhood in Queens. Through tight, beautiful prose, we learn of the author's childhood.

What is magical about this book is that it is not a chronicle of some nightmare or a retelling of yet another horrifying story of abject cruelty. Rather, 'Who Do You Think You Are?' is the story of what really goes on behind the closed doors of many peoples' lives. Relationships are not perfect. People hurt one another. People damage one another. And life goes on. Especially for the survivor. Ultimately, this is a book about what it means to love and to discover that place within yourself that lets you love in spite of the hurt you have suffered. It is also a book about forgiving and how that contributes to love. This is an amazing book and one that I recommend in the highest possible terms. It's a gem.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By J. Ferrara on April 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. And I wouldn't have thought of it as my kind of book. A friend who liked it gave it to me to read and I couldn't put it down. There's something about the straightforwardness of the writing that just draws you in. My relationship with my mother wasn't as bad as that of the author, but I saw so many issues of our relationship reflected here that it really moved me. And the unexpected ending was amazing.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Lucy Brown on January 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
This author did nothing to stir up empathy from the reader. She may be a lot more like her mother than she would like to think. She idolized a man who was a poor excuse for a husband and father - in her own words, from her own memories, we hear her mother's worry and panic over the blackout and his absences, with his only response being "well, I'm here now." The author didn't need to ponder the reasons for her mother's anger, depression and cruelty - she spelt it out for the reader - too bad she never figured it out for herself. Did she ever think what sort of hell her mother lived every single day, taking care of three children on her own? I was raised by a single mother, and I am in constant amazement of the burden she shouldered. Nowadays we know of post-partum depression, stress related illnesses, smoking dangers. Back then, even doctors smoked! But it gives her yet another reason to look down her nose at her mother.

Like another reviewer, I found it disturbing that the sisters didn't even merit names, just, "my middle sister" and "the younger sister". Apparently, Alyse was the only child whose feelings mattered. To Alyse, anyways. And the self-described 'good mother' Alyse turns out to be has no qualms telling the reader her response to her teenaged daughter's request to attend a funeral is, "She's your friend, not mine." Wow. Great parenting. Then she whines, "Oh, what would I know about losing a parent?" Talk about self-absorbed and cruel.

I could not identify, sympathize, or empathize with Alyse. I did, however, feel sorry for her mother many, many times.

(PS: wish I'd read the reviews first. If I'd known she was a guest on The View, I'd have steered clear. Typical whiny drivel from that bunch.)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Betsy Doolan on May 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This totally honest memoir allows the reader to enter the life of Alyse Meyers when she was a child. It is not a pretty life. It is not a life many would want to change places with, yet it sparks a chord in us all. I read this book recently as a book club choice and it couldn't have been a better one. Not only did I find myself completely absorbed in the story and the characters, but it brought about fantastic discussion in a group. After all, we all come from a family and everyone has a story! A very worthwhile read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By SherryDamore on September 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book because I saw the author on "The View." Boy, did I get taken. This book is written without insight or skill. It fails to build, and is more akin to an article for a lower end women's magazine than an entire book She had an awful mother, and a generally dysfunctional family, so........? Nothing. Completely boring and a real waste of time.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tara on July 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am not sure why the author of this memoir felt she had to publish this. It is whiny, self-indulged, lacking insight and something one would tell an analyst or therapist, not something the world needs to waste their time reading. It is just another dysfunctional family story with the author at the center. At the end I had the feeling she was saying look at all I endured but what a great person I've turned out to be. It wasn't particularly well- written; there are so many wonderful well-written memoirs out there that why spend your time on this one. As one reviewer mentioned, she never mentions her sisters by name; it is as if they don't matter. I was bothered by this book, that she felt she had to publish it. There are so many many people who have endured much worse who don't feel they have to air their family's dirty laundry to the world. Is she consciously getting back at her mother unfairly after she is dead? Don't waste time or money on this one.
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