Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: October 15, 2019
My Rating: 🍪🍪.5
The setting of this story intoxicated me. Brodeur’s descriptions came alive through her writing. I could feel the salty humidity of summers on Cape Cod, hear the sound of the ocean on a summer night, and vividly imagine sitting, stuffed full of exquisite food, tipsy on red wine, perfectly content in a hot breeze. These are the prose that drew me into Wild Game. What followed was Adrienne’s story of her relationship with her mother, Malabar, who used Adrienne as a pawn in her affair.
Starting at age fourteen, Adrienne is privy to her mother’s every trist with a close family friend, Ben. Malabar treats Adrienne as her closest confidant, and has her daughter help orchestrate times for her to be alone with her lover. Not once does she seem to consider the detrimental effect this may have on Adrienne. As a teenager, Adrienne thinks it’s all very exciting. She basks in being her mom’s chosen confidant. As she gets older, she struggles when those around her tell her that her relationship with her mom is toxic. Adrienne is so blinded by her mother’s glamour, and intoxicated by her seemingly thrilling and secretive life, that it takes her a long time to understand the terrible toll her mom’s secret had on her own life.
It was incredibly shocking reading about the dinner parties with spouses who were secretly sleeping together. Even more disturbing was Ben and Malabar’s plan to wait until their spouses, each with severe illnesses, died, and then to be together. It was hard to understand how their secret was sustained for so many years, but that clearly would not have been the case without Adrienne’s help.
I wanted to shake Adrienne through a lot of this book to get her to see clearly how awfully her mom treated her. Malabar’s utter selfishness is proven again and again, and it was painful to witness how blinded Adrienne to the one-sided nature of their relationship. In addition to the repetitive nature of Malabar’s actions, much of this memoir felt repetitious. Despite the speed at which it sucked me in, I found that the later chapters seemed drawn out, with Ben and Malabar nearly getting caught, and then making it through, over and over again. Unfortunately, this caused me to largely lose interest by the end of the book.