Book Review: Live Through This (Why Memoir is Often Inadvisable)

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Live Through This is on shaky ground from the get-go because it is a memoir. Obviously intended to grab readers via its “shocking” content, it is a mother’s story of her two daughters’ ongoing, frightening attempts at total self-destruction.

The problem with memoirs is that often the person telling the story is too close to it to speak in any objective way about it—and also that they might not be good writers.  This memoir belongs in the hands of only one person and that person needs to be a highly trained, really competent therapist who has dealt with extreme cases of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The mother, for all her graphic recitation of events, never once discusses the horrors her daughters went through in any way beyond how they affected HER, how SHE felt, how SHE interpreted. She is pathologically unable to produce any meaningful sense of empathy or pain on the behalf of her children or insight as to who they were and why they made the choices they did—they just seem to be bad girls hell bent on torturing their poor mother—which eventually makes the reader pause and wonder just what’s wrong with this woman?

Even as the book moves to the “Reclaimed Love” ending, it is clear that the mother has changed absolutely nothing about herself. There are points where I wanted to throw the book across the room (but I didn’t, Nooks are expensive) and shout at her, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GIRLS? I know YOU had pain, we’ve read many pages of that, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?” This book is a testament to personality disorder, and how the disordered person is entirely unable, incapable, of viewing anything in any way except through the lens of their pathology. One Star. I hope her shrink read it, and I hope her daughter’s shrinks are helping them to see how damaged and sick their mother is.

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