Thursday, June 09, 2016

Review: After Perfect: A Daughter's Memoir by Christina McDowell

Title: After Perfect: A Daughter's Memoir
Author: Christina McDowell
Narrator: Christina McDowell
Published: June 2015, Audible Studios / Gallery Books
Length: 9 hours 55 minutes / 224 pages
Source: Personal copy via Audible / Netgalley via Publicist

In the tradition of New York Times bestsellers What Remains by Carole Radziwill and Oh the Glory of It All by Sean Wilsey, Christina McDowell’s unflinching memoir is a brutally honest, cautionary tale about one family’s destruction in the wake of the Wall Street implosion.

Christina McDowell was born Christina Prousalis. She had to change her name to be legally extricated from the trail of chaos her father, Tom Prousalis, left in the wake of his arrest and subsequent imprisonment as one of the guilty players sucked into the collateral fallout of Jordan Belfort (the Wolf of Wall Street). Christina worshipped her father and the seemingly perfect life they lived…a life she finds out was built on lies. Christina’s family, as is typically the case, had no idea what was going on. Nineteen-year-old Christina drove her father to jail while her mother dissolved in denial.

Since then, Christina’s life has been decimated. As her family floundered in rehab, depression, homelessness, and loss, Christina succumbed to the grip of alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity before finding catharsis in the most unlikely of places. From the bucolic affluence of suburban Washington, DC, to the A-list clubs and seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, this provocative memoir unflinchingly describes the harsh realities of a fall from grace. Full of nineties nostalgia and access to the inner circles of the Washingtonian societal elite, Christina McDowell’s beautiful memoir is a Blue Jasmine story from a daughter’s perspective.

My thoughts: I don't tend to read many memoirs, but for some reason, this one sounded pretty interesting and I have to say, I'm really glad I ended up getting a copy of it. I'm the first to admit, I didn't really follow the stock market so the whole Wall Street Crisis is a bit beyond me, but to see how it impacted a young girl is intriguing.

I really appreciated Christina's honesty throughout this book - it felt authentic and raw and there were plenty of times my heart broke for her as she dealt with everything that was thrown at her, but at times I also questioned her naivety. I also was appalled at her mother and the choices she made throughout all this and the choices her dad continued to make

Christina certainly got dealt a bad hand in life, there's no question about that and she had to grow up fast. But, she is not without her faults, too. She continued to make excuses for her dad, refusing at times to believe that he wouldn't be there for her, until finally she had no choice but to accept who he really was - a hard pill for swallow, that your daddy isn't really who you think he is.

While the book does not have a happy ending, Christina does provide some possibility of growth and coping for all that she has endured through the time period she shared with us. She shared the process she went through to get her name changed - a process that in and of itself shows just how far she has come to want and even need to sever ties. All in all, a raw, honest look at something I never would have considered, but am glad that I had to opportunity to read.
Audio thoughts: I never know what to expect when an author narrates her own book, but I thought Christina McDowell did a pretty good job with this one. I think because it's such a personal story, that aspect of it came across really well in the narration. Her emotions at times really helped to convey just how dire some of the situations really were. I enjoyed listening to this one. 



  1. I am good with an author narrating a memoir or biography--because I think they get how to tell their own story. You still have to have a good voice though :)

  2. Yes think the author narrating a memoir would work so long as it was listenable! Sounds like a fascinating life. And the truth is must have been a difficult fall.

  3. Sounds like a difficult story but of course a fascinating tale.

  4. Kudos to her for putting it all out there.


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