Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me

Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me

by Adrienne Brodeur


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“Exquisite and harrowing.” New York Times Book Review

“This electrifying, gorgeously written memoir will hold you captive until the last word.” —People

NAMED A BEST FALL BOOK BY People * Refinery29 * Entertainment Weekly * BuzzFeed * NPR’s On Point * Town & Country * Real Simple * New York Post * Palm Beach Post * Toronto Star * Orange Country Register * Bustle * Bookish * BookPage * Kirkus* BBC Culture* Debutiful

A daughter’s tale of living in the thrall of her magnetic, complicated mother, and the chilling consequences of her complicity.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328519030
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 10/15/2019
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 508
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

ADRIENNE BRODEUR began her career in publishing as the cofounder, with filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, of the National Magazine Award–winning Zoetrope: All-Story. She has worked as a book editor and is currently the executive director of Aspen Words.

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Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Doreena Silva 2 days ago
WOW! This book is a suppose to be a memoir, but it totally reads like a novel. What a tumultuous but fascinating relationship between Adrienne and her mother. Not particularly a book I would read, but read it for participation in a book club and it surely made for an interesting read.
AnneGiglio 7 days ago
Coming from a broken home I was able to relate to this book. My heart hurt for Adrienne as all she wanted was to be loved by her mother. But at what cost? This book is about a mother/Malabar who needs a friend more then a daughter. She tells her daughter her upmost secrets at the tender age of 14. Adrienne is as any 14 year old girl, wanting the attention and close relationship this has given her. However Adrienne has a hard time breaking away from her mother, even into her 30's. This cost of this relationship is more then Adrienne could ever have imagined. I don't read many biographical memoirs and this book was excellent. I highly recommend this book!
Reading_Between_The_Wines 10 days ago
If you are a looking for nonfiction that reads like fiction, look no further! As a fair weather nonfiction reader myself (although I’ve definitely upped my game lately) I’m always looking for pace and intrigue with my nonfiction and Wild Game is just that. This memoir has family drama in spades, but consider this a trigger warning if infidelity bothers you. This was one of the rare memoirs I could read about a privileged white family that didn’t make me cringe. And bonus: foodies will LOVE the descriptions of certain dishes and meals in Wild Game. Also, I can’t say for sure but I found out the audiobook is narrated by Julie Whelan, my very favorite narrator so I have to imagine that is amazing as well!
drama-queen 21 days ago
A tricky one this as my over-riding and lasting impression is that there is so little to like about the central triumvirate in this, Adrienne Brodeur's, autobiographical account of her enabling the lengthy affair of her mother and her father's best friend. Difficult because, by laying her tale on the page, Brodeur knowingly opens herself to this judgement and, despite the evident failure of her mother to well...mother, Brodeur's continuing inclination (right into adulthood) to be drawn into the noise and drama places her alongside Malabar and Ben in their callous self-absorption. I do not question that, in 1980, she is unwittingly embroiled, at first enticed (aged 14) by her desire to bask in the warmth of her mother's brief sharing of the spotlight; "When my mother aimed her light at you, let it shine on you and allowed you to feel that you held her interest and amused her, it was nearly impossible to look away." Nor that the aftermath of her actions have haunted and been far-reaching, "I lost the ability to connect with Charles the day the first lie fell from my lips. Over time I began to lose it with myself too." However, that does not explain the narcissistic skin-scraping to excuse her participation. Whilst I appreciate the observation that; "Once I chose to follow my mother, there was no turning back, I became her protector and sentinel, always on the lookout for what might give her away.", I cannot ignore that ultimately, in her dedication, she holds her mother above everything; "Malabar Brewster, my first and most abiding love." To be clear, my mother also had a relationship with a married man in my formative years and I too remember being caught in the drama and romance at the time. A parent now myself, I honestly cannot imagine what she was thinking.
sspea 23 days ago
At 14 years old Rennies mother: Malabar, brings her into her secret world. Using her daughter as a shield Malabar embarks on an affair with her husbands best friend. Adrienne Brodeurs memoir is more than the story about her mothers affair, it's about the relationship between a mother and a daughter. A mother who burdened her young daughter with a secret, too big to carry and how that secret went on to affect her daughters life and relationships with others. Brodeur writes about her mothers manipulation as though it is the most common experience, she writes about being shocked when other people saw her mother as the villain instead of the victim, which really hammers home how deep this masterful control went. Beautifully written, this book was captivating.
Anonymous 23 days ago
ReadingIsMyCardioBookClub 23 days ago
The premise of "Wild Game" sounds unbelievable - a mother enlists her teenaged daughter's help in conducting an affair with her husband's best friend - and while it may be the kind of story that inspires Lifetime movies, Brodeur's memoir unflinching dissects her own relationship with her mother and their unusual family dynamic in a manner that you will not be able to get enough of. The author has a beautiful way with words and her descriptions of Cape Cod, meals her mother made and moments in her life are so vivid that you can see yourself there. Her all-encompassing love for her mother comes through in every page and it's this devotion that has enduring repercussions for both of them as well as the rest of their family and close friends. That Brodeur has examined her past so thoroughly and come out stronger is miraculous; that she has shared it with all of us is a gift.
Anonymous 29 days ago
"Wild Game" is by far the best memoir I've ever read. Brodeur's life story is a fascinating anomaly, & the way she weaves her words will keep you captivated.
LeslieLindsay 3 months ago
Riveting story told in glorious prose, WILD GAME is elegantly told about a seriously dysfunctional relationship between a mother and daughter--and the mother's lover. Set mostly in Cape Cod in the early-mid 1980s, WILD GAME (HMH, October 15 2019) might be *the* buzz-iest memoirs of the fall. And it's deserved. Adrienne is fourteen when her mother, Malabar, wakes her daughter at midnight with the proclamation that a family friend--and also the best friend of Malabar's husband (Adrienne's stepfather, Charles) has kissed her. She's beaming. She's thrilled. The juicy details! Malabar wishes to confide in her daughter, to turn her into a secret accomplice in her torrid affair with this family friend, Ben Souther, who is also married. And Adrienne is eager to do this. She so desperately seeks her mother's approval. Malabar can be a challenge, a bit of a diva. She loves to cook gourmet, succulent food, and does so with flourish. Baby pigeons for dinner? No problem. Clams and crabs, lobster, and duck, venison, yes, all that, too. And she loves her cocktails. Malabar is stunning in every way. Except she's lonely. And probably very insecure. Brodeur does a fabulous job of taking complex and lengthy backstory and weaving it into a narrative whole. We understand Malabar is a damaged individual, but sometimes, the damage just wasn't 'enough.' Don't get me wrong, she had some struggles, but this might be a tale of wealth, of other kinds of brokenness. The author is open, brave, transparent in her own struggles and her own role in this strange, tumultuous relationship (and her own, distinct path), but overall the 'blame' truly belongs to the mother. There's drama and intrigue, and at one point, I simply could not put WILD GAME down. WILD GAME is about secrets and lies (some covert and others overt), that we tell ourselves (and others) to justify the choices we make. It's about self-preservation. And also, we 'inherit' things from our fore-bearers that are more than 'just' genetics, but also ways of being. We can stop that. We don't have to pass down poor behavior. The last bit of the book is what it really all comes down to: that sometimes those closest to us are who hurt the most, simply because they have access to our young, tender hearts. This story reminded me some of IMPLOSION by Elizabeth Garber meets GLASS CASTLE (Jeannette Walls) and also maybe Dani Shapiro's writing style in INHERITANCE. L.Lindsay|Always with a Book
Top-Five-Books 3 months ago
An amazing story of love and betrayal, this memoir (about a mother-daughter relationship) was so compelling that I wanted to read it in one sitting (unfortunately work interfered, though I did read it very quickly). I don't usually go for non-fiction, in part because I like plot-driven novels, and this kept me engaged the way a thriller might. The author's voice is warm and self-assured, and she managed to tell a complicated and at times heartbreaking story with great nuance and compassion.
Mark_Tom 3 months ago
Wild Game is more than a compelling tale of a mother without boundaries, more even than a story of a daughter's desperate attempt to gain emotional escape velocity, it is a book about the strangeness of love and the unexpected places it can carry us. It's a wild ride of a read, beautiful and haunting.
Shobizreads 3 months ago
This memoir frustrated me from the beginning, to see an innocent 14-year-old's childhood abruptly ended one night when she is awoken by her mother, who confesses that she is embarking on a secret affair with her husband's best friend was so inappropriate. From that night forward, we watch Adrienne become complict in her mother's decade-long affair and the unintended and unrecognized consequences of this inappropriate role. I alternated between intense anger and being flabbergasted by Malabar's (the mother) behavior and parenting style. She comes across as a self-centered (probably narcissistic) person who is blindingly focused on one thing, her affair with Ben, with no regard to how she is using her teenage daughter, alienating her son, and hurting her husband and Ben's wife. The most heart-breaking part for me was seeing how Adrienne's life also became focused and heavily influenced by this affair. The consequences were lasting and far-reaching. This is a very honest retelling of her experience. I had hoped for a little more on her story once she started to realize the affects her mother and her relationship with her had on her life. The majority of the book was dedicated to the history of their relationship and a very short portion to the author's "current reality" which I was actually very interested in. This is reminiscent of Glass Castles, Inheritance and Educated (although decidedly less fast-paced than Educated). The dysfunction centered primarily around the mother's emotional abuse or manipulation of her daughter and addiction, rather than sexual or physical abuse.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I received a ARC. This reads like a novel. I was wrapped up in Brodeur's life and her complicated relationship with her mother, Malabar. It draws you and can't put it down. Comparisons to THE GLASS CASTLE are deserved.
KarenfromDothan 3 months ago
One night, her mother awakened young Adrienne to tell her she’s just been kissed by her step-father’s best friend. At 14, she became her mother’s confidante and complicit in her affair. In the years that followed, yearning for her mother’s love and approval, she helped facilitate her trysts and kept all her secrets at a great personal cost. What a gorgeously rendered memoir! The depiction of Cape Cod and Nauset beach is to die for and the meal descriptions are positively tantalizing. There are a lot of great quotes contained within its pages. This is one I think all readers will appreciate: “Books come into your life for a reason.” A beautiful story, I think everyone who reads it will take something different from it. It’s a fascinating, insightful account of a toxic mother-daughter relationship, and the author’s process of overcoming her past.
Angie0184 3 months ago
A wildly entertaining and sometimes bleak memoir. Rennie, 14 years old, is woken by her mother in the middle of the night and brought into the folds of an adulterous secret. Who better to help her narcissistic mother pull up a years long affair than a child that no one would suspect? I truly felt for this child and then woman as she brings us on the journey of her life that is affected in every way by the secret she feels compelled to keep. Malabar, the "mother" in this is by turns affectionate, caring, and abhorrent. Selfish until very nearly the end, her single minded devotion to herself drives her daughter to chronic stomach pain and envelopes every relationship Rennie will ever have. Fascinating read.
Momof2kids 3 months ago
I do not read a lot of NonFiction. Usually if I do, its a celebrity's book or something. However, I could not put Wild Game down. This hit me hard for a few levels, first I have a teenage daughter. So reading the feelings and thoughts that Rennie had. I had a hard time respecting or even liking Malabar for obvious reasons, but I do respect how much she loved Rennie. I'm going to sound so judgemental, but as a mom, I don't know if I would ever enlist my daughter as a sidekick to an affair that I am having with a friend of my husbands. Rennie just wanted to do whatever she could to feel included in her mothers life. Its a difficult read about mothers and daughters and it has made me really look at my relationship with my daughter as well.
faunne 4 months ago
First, I would like to thank BookishFirst for providing me with a free print ARC copy of this novel. Below is my honest review. First, I must say, that after reading a few reviews that have already been posted for this book, I am appalled at the number of people who are basically judging the quality of the book by the author's privileged upbringing. To do so is to assert that someone who has family money does not have the right to suffer from severe depression or that somehow a child's mental and emotional abuse is less valid because her parents have a beach house on Cape Cod. Adrienne Brodeur has laid her past bare for the public to see, opening herself and her family up to scrutiny and judgment. She has done so knowing that her story is one worthy of being told. Never have I read of a mother as narcissistic and self-serving as Malabar. With complete and utter disregard for the feelings of anyone but herself, she launches into an affair that spans over a decade. She has no concern for the lives she destroys in the process. Brodeur has an exceptional writing style, making the book difficult to put down. The story moves quickly, beginning when the author was 14 and moving through subsequent decades. There is a quote in the book that I will not repeat here and spoil for anyone, but when stated by Malabar, I wanted to punch her square in her smug face. I was fully invested in this memoir and I highly recommend it. I am excited also that the film rights were sold and that we will get to experience this tale visually.
WordPassion 4 months ago
What fourteen year old girl doesn't want to be the confidant of her beautiful, charismatic mother?! Adrienne Brodeur is no exception. It's clear that she feels a sense of guilt almost for being born on the same day as her brother Christopher who died....like she has to make up for that somehow to her mother. But when Malabar begins and affair with her husband's best friend Ben, Rennie (as her mother calls her) brings the secret straight to her daughter for safe-keeping. Thus begins a decades long betrayal of Rennie's step-father and Ben's wife, Lily with Rennie trying to protect and cover her mother's tracks. Once in college, Rennie feels less of the strain of their deceit until she meets Ben's son, Jack and falls head over heels in love. Eventually everything is revealed but Malabar remains impervious to the extent of damage that she has wrought on those around her, right to the end. Excellent memoir.....I wanted to pull Rennie aside and tell her, "this isn't your fault" as she clearly felt that she was partly to blame in her mother's affair.