“Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Adrienne Brodeur is a story of a mother’s love, what not to do and the long journey to recover from the damage done.
Rennie’s mom, Malabar, and her second husband, Charles, spend a lot of time with friends George and Lily up at Cape Cod. After Charles’s stroke, he isn’t as active, but his longtime friend George is loyal, and he and his ailing wife, Lily, are a fine match for the couple. The four of them have many fun times drinking and eating and come up with a fun project: create a cookbook together.
One night, Malabar comes into young Rennie’s bedroom, waking her to tell her that George, Charles’s friend, had kissed her. Confiding in her daughter felt right, and Rennie is thrilled to be a part of her mother’s big secret and source of joy. But as things progress, Malabar and George develop a relationship without their respective spouses knowing, and Rennie becomes a part of the deceit. She provides alibis, excuses and helps create opportunities for the cheating couple, and her lies force her to put her own life on hold in order to help her mother.
The story is so shocking, I found it hard to believe. That’s because this isn’t a work of fiction; this is a memoir, and I couldn’t help but feel anger toward the author’s mother. A mother is someone who protects a child, and hopefully raises him or her with love and affection. And yet, it is possible to be loving and also cause damage. In “Wild Game,” Brodeur shares with us the web of lies her mother trapped her in early on when she was just a child. This mother-daughter bond was so strong, it prevented a positive path toward confidence, self-esteem and personal success for Adrienne during those formative years of childhood through young adulthood. She made some questionable decisions while trying to separate herself from her mother but created the opportunity to live her own life.
“Whatever pent-up teenage energy had been thwarted in me because of my role in my mother’s affair was now rushing the gate. At last, I was the one experimenting with sex, drugs, and adventures. I was the one having the time of my life.”
I was drawn in to “Wild Game”; Brodeur’s story is incredible, mesmerizing and upsetting, and she courageously shares her unusual journey. With reflection and a deeper sense of understanding, it seems as if the author has been able to heal.
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