Self-Discovery Heartbreak


Imagine this: You are adopted. At 31, you find out your biological mother is looking for you. You meet her and she is a loony.

The Mistress’s Daughter is A.M. Homes’ story. I won’t even start about her biological father, you will have to read it. Homes’ has a knack for not mincing words. Ever. This makes her memoir of searching for her family equally heartbreaking and fascinating.

The first time she agrees to meet her mother at the Plaza in the Oyster Bar she wants to run. Later, she describes her mother to her friend. “All I can say is, ‘Dusty Springfield.'”

Her prose is brutal, but at the edges, terribly funny. Her humor takes you by surprise, adding another layer to the memoir.

There are three different parts to this book. The first describes the discovery of her biological parents. The second deals with the loss of her mother, so quickly after they meet. The third documents her obsessive genealogy search for both her biological and adoptive families. This makes for a disjointed memoir. I lost interest in the genealogical dissection of her families. I found the first part so rewarding that I didn’t mind the so-so third part.

As a memoir, it can stand alone. Read as a companion to her fiction, it adds insight to her already fascinating backlist.

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