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It was . . . interesting. I wavered between feeling disgusted at the belittling actions of her father and repelled at how ungrateful the daughter was for the opportunity to travel to exotic places and have a full-ride education. Then again, I’ve been in situations where otherwise fantastic opportunities and experiences have been soured by an accompanying unhappy, cruel, and vicious personality.
The psychological aspect of it is intriguing — her accounting of how her father shaped her personality and how she continues to mimic him to this day. It’s interesting to see her pick herself apart, look at the different pieces of herself and put them back together in a light that she can reconcile with her idea of a decent person, whereas she cannot or will not do the same for her father. That’s probably because he effects her more than she’s willing to admit by the end of the book — she claims that she can forge a relationship that works with her mother, though she’s angrier at her mother, but she completely shuts out her father and makes no attempt to communicate or reconcile with him. It’s an interesting question of psychology and how we can see and be repelled by the worst parts of ourselves in others.
The biggest complaint I had with the book was the writing style — it jarred from the get-go. She recounted conversations with her family members from decades in her past with the clarity of moments ago. She made no allowances in her writing, no admission that she may be misremembering or representing the conversation incorrectly. No disclaimer such as, “This may not be what was exactly said, but this is my memory of the events and the impression it left upon me.” Nor did she at any time say that she’d interviewed others in her family and presented their points of view to present the most unbiased account she could.
Because it’s so detailed and so obviously bent toward demonizing her father, it loses credibility. I’m tempted to think of it as the rant of a rich girl meeting “A Million Little Pieces” syndrome.
If you’re reading it for the story, don’t. If you’re reading it because it’s mildly interesting to psychoanalyze the different players, and read her versions of analysis, then by all means continue reading.