About the Book (Synopsis Taken from Product Detail Page, on Simon & Schuster Website):
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…
Perceptive, Empowering, and Riveting are the three main adjectives that I feel best underscore the strength of this novel, the power it has to really weave a fairly complex, sometimes distressing story, for the sympathetic reader, but yet effectively deliver something that transcends to much higher thematic depths. A memoir has no necessity to do that, by the nature of the very type of novel a memoir is. It is an interesting term, as it emphasizes the importance of the memory of a certain individual, and how they convey the events contain in that specific memory. Many times, a memoir unravels from a focal point of severe pain and harm, and the collateral, or resulting emotions, are animated in vivid, emotionally-affecting prose.
Christina McDowell, both the narrator and author for After Perfect: A Daughter’s Memoir,writes her story, with a very tight focus on really describing first the epicenter of the traumatic economic downfall of her entire family. We get very well-edited fragments of the scene of the court room, where her accused father was on trial for money laundering and selling bogus investments as a disreputable corporate lawyer. Below the surface of this tumultuous drama, Christina offers her various emotional impressions all of this, an ongoing psychological warfare where she is constantly feeling embattled, within her own mind, over the perception of her father as once being a paragon of ethical excellent, and now being someone that is really quite the opposite.
I could really delve into many more specifics about the effectiveness of her writing, but I think highlighting the focus of empowerment of her very moving, sometimes unnerving narrative, without spoiling anything about the plot, strongly emphasizes the once dormant tenacity of Christina, as she goes from living in affluence and great material wealth, to being destitute and bereft, losing both her idealized images of both her mother and father in the process, as if they had undergone a spiritual death of sorts.
In the shadow of Father’s Day, particularly, it makes you wonder how fraught with pain these kind of days are for those who have had complicated, sometimes deeply painful pasts with their fathers, which are certainly instituted by society for very good reasons. Except, these days, in their most cloying extreme, tend to unintentionally enshrine all fathers as being equally noble and deserving of praise and respect, when we know that kind of high standard cannot ever be applicable to any human being. There is no perfected algorithm for the perfect father, as Christina progressively throughout the story is forced, due to certain extenuating circumstances, mature and progress to a more reasonable reality, separate from one that was entirely devoid of honesty and moral rectitude.
It is an odyssey for Christina, one that is told realistically, revealing all the emotional pain that is encapsulated in this life story, for which her father’s grave crimes and their consequent downfall, serves as the sad impetus of it all. After Perfect can be perfectly summed up then as a survival story, one that anyone that lives story that lucidly, and beautifully evoke the trials and tribulations of the different strands of our life story, in a way that is riveting and genuine for the reader. In sum, After Perfect–A A Daughter’s Memoir will serve, to the reader, as a sobering reminder of the shadows and complicated paradoxes that lurk beneath the deceptively sleek and immaculate ‘goodness’ that lies on the surface of this said idol.