While Armstrong’s life is fascinating, it is her mother, Barbara, who captivates. A single mother, Barbara has a brief stint with depression before she pivots and establishes herself as a firm scion of survival: she becomes an international spy—until she marries a doctor, allowing her to resume her career as a lawyer and affording her daughter a wealthier lifestyle. Like her mother, Armstrong is pioneering and full of grit, becoming an award-winning architect at a time when the field was largely a boys’ club. She teeters emotionally between her mercurial parents, and it plays out in her personal life as she searches for parental figures and embarks on three ill-fated marriages.
Armstrong excels at allowing the reader to empathize with an intimate portrayal of her search for connection, stability, and love. The added bonus of a photo gallery in the center of the book features her family and important figures in her life and showcases her work as an architect. This is a moving coming-of-age memoir that will enthrall readers as they travel through the dizzying turns of Armstrong’s life, from her early childhood to the death of her enigmatic mother.
Takeaway: A candid memoir of the dynamics between a compelling mother and her independent, tenacious daughter.
Great for fans of: Jeannette Walls, Ariel Leve.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A