Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The End of Normal

I've kind of been on a string of reading books by widows-at least these have been the books that I have been reading while on the treadmill, and for whatever reason they keep me wanting to run, which isn't a bad thing.

The End of Normal by Stephanie Maddoff Mack is Mack's story about her life within the Maddoff family after marrying Bernie and Ruth Madoff's oldest son, Mark. Their courtship and marriage, her role as a step-mother and her relationship with her famous in-laws are all topics Mack covers, as well as Mark's suicide.

I liked Mack's writing, but had a very hard time relating to her. She shares experiences where she is upset with someone and fires off an angry email, or confronts many of the people who have irritated her. I do understand her feelings of helplessness after her father-in-law was arrested and she and her family became the subject of paparazzi, but there are few, if any, examples of how Mack was able to take the high road and ignore the minor irritations in life. My husband, who is also reading this now, also questioned her decisions while we were talking about it last night.

Despite everything Mack has gone through both of us agreed that in some ways she still doesn't "get it." She is still living a life of affluence - being able to go and take college classes, live in a home, even having a babysitter come in and care for her children- are all things that many people cannot afford to do. And while she says she doesn't need all the material things that went with being a Madoff, she has continued to live better than most.

Her husband killed himself just a year ago, which I mentioned was perhaps one of the flaws with this memoir. Had more time passed, Mack's own feelings might not be as raw (or as bitter).

Mack's memoir does provide an inside look (by an outsider) at the Maddoff family, which is very intriguing and very informative. Another book, Truth and Consequences by Laurie Sandell is also out now, written with Ruth and Andy Madoff's cooperation. I am very interested in comparing these two perspectives, already believing before I begin that I will find Mack's far more reliable.

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