The Impostor's Daughter
written by Laurie Sandell
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The Impostor's Daughter opens with the odd revelation that Laurie Sandell's father stopped the mail whenever he left town. It's seemingly innocuous at first (at little on the control-freak side, but some fathers are stricter than others), but it quickly explodes into a wrenching look at what and who her father actually is. By turns, he is frightening, horrific, infuriating, and, ultimately, pathetic. But he is always brilliant. Con men have to be, and he's no exception. In fact, he might be one of the best.
Sandell grew up with a mother and two sisters who seem to eagerly turn a blind eye to the patriarchal delusion. To be sure, her father is brilliant. He teaches college courses, and even when the college deans discover he has faked his resume, they don't press charges against him...so he simply leaves and finds somewhere else to teach. Meanwhile, he dazzles his family and friends with amazing stories of his native Argentina, of growing up and surviving, of meeting famous people, of doing things that would seem impossible...and are.
Laurie believes the lies too, more or less, or at least accepts them, until she's in college and she discovers that her father has opened up a credit card account under her name. This betrayal, which leads to bad credit before she's ever gotten to use it on her own, opens up a world of doubt for Laurie. Over the years, she begins investigating this man she thought she knew, this man whose love and approval mean so much to her...and what she finds is a bizarre and twisted tale of lies, deception, fraud, and theft, the sheer audacity of which is mesmerizing.
It's even more mesmerizing simply because Sandell is a natural storyteller. As a writer for Glamour magazine, she's interviewed and written about dozens of celebrities, and she has a deft touch with pacing and revealing that compel the story along beautifully. One strength of her writing is that, as the tale becomes more and more incredible, the story becomes more human and relatable. She never shirks from revealing her own life (the irony here being that she is truthful to a fault about her own life, while her father is truthful about none) and gives us insight into her entire adulthood choices, from moving to Japan and becoming a stripper to her dating life to her stint in rehab for a growing Ambien addiction. Even her religious beliefs are put under the microscope...but never in an intrusive or sentimental way. Every page seems to scream, "See how easy it is to tell the truth? You just do it!" If only it were that simple.
I fell in love with this book and its raw honesty. It's gut-wrenching and compelling.-- John Hogan