Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein

Harper. Jun. 2018. 400p. photos. index. ISBN 9780062641359. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062641373. MEMOIR
OrangeReviewStarAmerican musical icon Leonard Bernstein (1918–90) is forever associated with West Side Story, the New York Philharmonic, televised Young People's Concerts, humanitarian causes, and more. Here daughter and author Jamie Bernstein presents an in-depth, compelling memoir that portrays the private man from her early years of childhood onward. In the Bernstein household, celebrity visits, from Stephen Sondheim to Lauren Bacall, were the norm, and Leonard adored teaching his children about everything from music to word games. He loved parties, the Beatles and Mahler, family time at their country house, hilarious antics, and composing and discussing current events in a haze of cigarette smoke. Although the three Bernstein children loved their father, they often struggled to define their own identities. The author examines her family life with perceptive honesty, including the untimely death of her talented mother, her own journey, and her father's increasingly complex personality. Beautifully set within the cultural framework of 20th-century America, this sensitive portrait of a famous father and his world also traces the author's life-affirming discovery of her own gifts while simultaneously honoring a rich legacy.
VERDICT An unforgettable memoir filled with poignancy and humor. A must for music lovers and general readers alike. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/18.]

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