Updated: Mar 30, 2020
Memoirs are one of my favorite genres because they are so real and raw. Wild Game is a story about a mother and daughter with an inappropriate relationship and a massive, harbored secret. Adrienne (Rennie) Brodeur is her mother's confidant starting at the young age of fourteen. Her mother, Malabar, embarks on an affair with her husband's best friend and solicits her young daughters help in hiding it. The manipulation and lack of boundaries is startling. This nonfiction book read like a fiction. That is how unbelievable this story is. While it is being compared to the likes of The Glass Castle, this memoir stands on it's own and deserves recognition for that.
Rennie's relationship with Malabar set the trajectory for her life. Being aware and, at times, involved in the secret relationship affected her physically and mentally. At a young age, she started developing anxiety and depression. Her relationships with the opposite sex was forever influenced from her mother's advice and perspective. There were parts of this memoir that were shocking and hard to fathom. From an outsider's perspective, it is easy to see what influenced many of Rennie's life choices, but at the time, she was too immersed in the yearning for who she wanted her mother to be. It is clear her mother was an emotionally abusive and distant parent, maybe not intentionally, but the wounds are visible. Having my own dysfunctional relationship with my mother, I completely understand where Rennie is coming from. We all know that you cannot change people, but that does not fill the void or make the yearning hurt any less.
Rennie's story is incredible and deserves to be read and digested. For people with "normal" family dynamics, parts of this book will be hard to fathom, but it is important to know that this kind of behavior is out there. The ending was what really cinched the deal for me and brought it to a five star read. The closure, love, and hope that the last few paragraphs end with filled my heart to the brim.
I highly recommend this one if you are a fan of memoirs involving complex family dynamics, especially mother/daughter relationships. In addition to the story being fascinating, Brodeur's writing is incredibly descriptive and eloquent. Malabar is an outstanding cook and I could practically taste the food Brodeur described. Her writing is thoughtful and really brought her story to life.
Wild Game is now up there with the likes of Educated, The Glass Castle, and Little Sister as one of my favorite memoirs. Check it out for your self and if you do, let's please discuss. There is so much to unpack in this one. It would be the perfect choice for a book club discussion.