Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Review: Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

Other people's lives are endlessly fascinating, especially the hidden pieces of those lives. One of the reasons we read is to inhabit these lives so very different from ours, at least for a a little time. Adrienne Brodeur's memoir about her glamorous mother Malabar, who entrusts fourteen year old Rennie with the knowledge of Malabar's affair with her husband’s married, best friend, making Rennie both confidante and co-conspirator, and the effects of this knowledge on her life and relationships, offers the reader a life it is impossible to look away from.

Brodeur has written an astonishing memoir of mothers and daughters, dysfunction, complicity, lies, and secrets. She looks back, not only at the obviously inappropriate revelations of her mother but also at her own deep desire to be her mother's ally, the favorite, to be special, the one who would aid and abet her mother in this affair despite her love for her stepfather. She presents the reality of her relationship with her mother and her knowledge of this affair as she remembers it, not letting her mother off the hook for her questionable decision to include her young teen in her deception but not letting herself off the hook either for the thrill she felt in safeguarding this knowledge. Her writing is self-reflective and honest. She knows she's writing of rich people behaving badly but she embraces that without apologizing for it.

Without excusing her selfish and toxic behavior, Brodeur tries to convey the magnetism and appeal of her mother but she's not entirely successful. And her own complicity can easily be forgiven when she's a child but the reader will find it harder to understand her loyalty to this secret once she is older and it threatens her own relationship and marriage. This is a perfect book for book clubs who can delve into the very real, even if it reads like fiction, impact Brodeur's mother had on her life and in forming the person, wife, and mother she has grown into being and the rocky journey of self-discovery that got her there.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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