I got this book as a holiday gift from a friend whose book taste I trust implicitly. She told me she hadn’t been able to put it down when she read it. I was skeptical — I’m just not really a non-fiction person. In fact, I’m pretty sure this was my first-ever memoir written by a non-celebrity. I usually just want to sit with a story and not think about real life. Why would I want to spend my precious book time reading about someone else’s real life?
Well. Crap. My friend was right. This book was INSANE.
On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me.
Adrienne instantly became her mother’s confidante and helpmate, blossoming in the sudden light of her attention, and from then on, Malabar came to rely on her daughter to help orchestrate what would become an epic affair with her husband’s closest friend. The affair would have calamitous consequences for everyone involved, impacting Adrienne’s life in profound ways, driving her into a precarious marriage of her own, and then into a deep depression. Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her life—and her mother—on her own terms.
Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It’s a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were to us.
This memoir — which read more like a crazy novel than an autobiography — fascinated me. It annoyed me. It infuriated me. It exhausted me. But yes, I couldn’t put it down.
At 14, Adrienne became a co-conspirator in her mother’s affair with her step-father’s best friend. She never realized she was doing anything wrong — she was just simply so happy to have her mother’s attention and spend time with her. Adrienne would have done anything for her mother.
As the affair goes on over the years, Adrienne gets more and more involved. She lies to everyone in her life, creating detailed and elaborate deceptions to keep the affair a secret, all the while distancing herself from her friends and family (except for her mother), and sinking into a depression. But she never questions any of her decisions, because her mother’s love is totally worth her questionable actions.
Oh man. Adrienne’s mother, Malabar, was a huge piece of work. If this was a movie, she would be played by Glenn Close (older version) or Rosamund Pike (younger version). Alternating hot and cold with her affections, only showing love if you agree that her needs are more important than yours, always.
As a parent, Malabar’s selfish view of the world absolutely angered me. However, it was clear that Malabar had lots of problems — she was mentally and physically abused by her own mother, well into adulthood, and Malabar had also lost her first child at a young age, which of course, she never got over.
But the way that she manipulated EVERYONE in her life, including her poor daughter, was simply unbearable to read about at times. There is a bizarre subplot about a necklace — and Malabar always using it as part of an emotional blackmail scheme — that made me want to scream.
I really felt for Adrienne as she looked back at what her life had become. I’m glad Annie sent this to me. I never ever would have read it if she hadn’t. But whoa. I’m going to need a few palate cleansers and comfort reads next!