Erica Heller, daughter of Catch-22 author Joseph Heller, throws open the doors on her family's history and skeletons in this funny, heartbreaking memoir. Given that there are two memoirs by Heller himself, a biography by Tracy Daugherty (Just One Catch) and many interviews Heller gave throughout his life, readers might wonder if Erica Heller will have anything new to say about her famous father.
The answer is: absolutely. While the book touches on well-known details of Joseph Heller's life, such as his friendship with celebrities like Mel Brooks and Mario Puzo, Erica Heller provides insight into life with her mercurial father. Rather than focus on his genius, she fleshes out his personality and their relationship, giving us a man who secretly follows his daughter to her new school to make sure she arrives safely but also disparages her through a thinly veiled fictional version of Erica in a published work.
While her father is the star attraction, Erica Heller's own story is the true focus of this book. Her childhood is peopled with unforgettable characters: her indomitable grandmother who refused to let poverty stop her from spending sprees; her mother, Shirley Heller, whose once-happy marriage to Joseph ended in a hostile divorce; a slew of quirky family friends; and the Apthorp, an apartment building so full of history, personality and community that it becomes a character itself. While most of our parents are mere mortals, Heller's tale of trying to meet parental expectations while finding her own path will resonate with readers everywhere.
***This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness Readers Edition. Sign up for this free and awesome newsletter at http://www.shelf-awareness.com for the latest news and reviews! This review refers to an ARC provided by Shelf Awareness.***