Who Do You Think You Are?: A Memoir

Alyse Myers

Touchstone/Simon&Schuster,  April 2009

Shortly after Alyse Myers's mother dies, Alyse and her sisters are emptying her mother's apartment, trying to decide what to discard and what to keep. Alyse covets only one thing -- a wooden box that sits in the back of a closet. Its contents have been kept from Alyse her entire life. That box, she hopes, will contain answers to her questions: Who were her parents really, and why did her mother settle for so very little in her life?

Growing up during the 1960s in a working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, Alyse's home is not a happy one. Her parents argue constantly and after the death of Alyse's father, her mother at age thirty-three is left with three young girls. While her mother retreats to the kitchen table with her cigarettes and bitterness, determined to stay there forever, Alyse yearns for more in life, including the right to escape. After a childhood of harrowing fights, abject cruelty, and endless uncertainty, Alyse adamantly rejects everything about her mother's life, provoking her mother's infuriated demand, "Who do you think you are?"

With candor and eloquence, Alyse Myers explores the profound and poignant revelations that so often come to light only after a parent has died. Balancing childhood memories with adult observations, Who Do You Think You Are? is a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting portrait of a mother and daughter. No matter what your relationship with your own mother is like, this book will stay with you long after you put it down.

paperback | ISBN: 9781416543053 | Publication Date: April 2009

"Myers provides a moving lesson . . . Her journey has universal resonance for myriad readers."
--Library Journal (starred).

"Myers conveys a chilling childhood in crisp, candid prose."

"The moving story . . . pleasantly old-fashioned . . . touching, even tender, record of Meyers's thorny mother's difficult life raising three girls alone."
--The New York Time

"Here's a book so honest it won't let you off the hook. You may not realize it during the early pages but it's a book about love. Indeed, it's a story where love is redefined, and even though it traces the sometimes unbearable relationship of mother and daughter, there are insights here for all of us. And -- the writing is masterly: taut, honest, and strangely satisfying."
--Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize -- winning author of Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man

"Alyse Myers candidly illuminates how challenging it sometimes is to love those closest to us, but how necessary it is to love them, if only so that we may know what love is."
--Esmeralda Santiago, author of When I Was Puerto Rican, Almost a Woman, and The Turkish Lover

"A compelling read . . . Popular memoirs are peopled now with sadists and victims, but Alyse Myers has put real people in her story. She's written a wonderful book. Completely genuine, and yet artfully done."
--Benjamin Cheever, author of Selling Ben Cheever, The Plagiarist, and Strides: Running Through
History with an Unlikely Athlete

"This is a book about determination and will and ambition, the laserlike focus of a young girl driven to survive her not- so-nice Jewish family and grow up to be a different kind of parent. Her success is gratifying but bittersweet, like that of a lone climber coming back down the mountain alive. Myers holds back nothing in the retelling of her story, and we are with, her through the whole of it -- the honesty, the pain, and the hard-won love waiting for her at the journey's end. I loved this book."
--Laura Zigman, author of Animal Husbandry and Piece of Work

"By the end, I felt like I'd been listening to a friend who could not lie, talking about a life she could not escape, and showing me all the wisdom she'd gained in the process of making the trip from despair to peace."
--Roland Merullo, author of The Italian Summer and Golfing with God

"Alyse Myers's unflinching memoir conveys the wounds of her childhood with blunt force, tempered by reconciliation. She touches nerves central to every human life."
--Julie Salamon, author of Hospital, The Net of Dreams, and The Devil's Candy

"It is still possible to write a good book about an unhappy childhood, and Alyse Myers has done just that with Who Do You Think You Are? The unself-conscious simplicity with which Myers tells her tale conceals no small amount of artfulness."
--Terry Teachout, CommentaryMagazine.com