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This Is Not My Beautiful Life: A Memoir

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One of Publisher Weekly's ten most anticipated memoirs of the season. If you think it sucks to live with your parents when you're thirty-six and nine months pregnant, just wait til the DEA comes knocking (with the IRS in tow): Welcome to Victoria Fedden's life. When a squad of federal agents burst through her parents’ front door, Victoria Fedden felt ill-prepared to meet th One of Publisher Weekly's ten most anticipated memoirs of the season. If you think it sucks to live with your parents when you're thirty-six and nine months pregnant, just wait til the DEA comes knocking (with the IRS in tow): Welcome to Victoria Fedden's life. When a squad of federal agents burst through her parents’ front door, Victoria Fedden felt ill-prepared to meet them: She was weeks away from her due date and her T-shirt wasn’t long enough to hide her maternity undies. As for the question of how to raise a child when you’ve just discovered that your mother and stepfather have allegedly masterminded a pump-and-dump scheme? She was pretty sure that wasn’t covered in What to Expect When You’re Expecting—and she really hoped that Bradford Cohen, the noted criminal defense attorney who famously waived his exemption on The Apprentice, would prove them innocent. This Is Not My Beautiful Life is the story of how Victoria lost her parents to prison and nearly lost her mind. No one ever said motherhood would be easy, but as she struggles to change diapers, install car seats, and find the right drop-off line at pre-school—no easy task, when each one is named for a stage in the lifecycle of a f*cking butterfly—she’s also forced to ask herself whether a jump-suit might actually complement her mom’s platinum-blonde extensions and fend off the cast of shady, stranger-than-fiction characters (like the recovering addict who scored a reality show when he started an escort service for women) who populated her parents’ world. A real-life Arrested Development that could only unfold in southern Florida, This Is Not My Beautiful Life is a hilariously funny and unexpectedly moving memoir of a just-functional family you’ll never forget.


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One of Publisher Weekly's ten most anticipated memoirs of the season. If you think it sucks to live with your parents when you're thirty-six and nine months pregnant, just wait til the DEA comes knocking (with the IRS in tow): Welcome to Victoria Fedden's life. When a squad of federal agents burst through her parents’ front door, Victoria Fedden felt ill-prepared to meet th One of Publisher Weekly's ten most anticipated memoirs of the season. If you think it sucks to live with your parents when you're thirty-six and nine months pregnant, just wait til the DEA comes knocking (with the IRS in tow): Welcome to Victoria Fedden's life. When a squad of federal agents burst through her parents’ front door, Victoria Fedden felt ill-prepared to meet them: She was weeks away from her due date and her T-shirt wasn’t long enough to hide her maternity undies. As for the question of how to raise a child when you’ve just discovered that your mother and stepfather have allegedly masterminded a pump-and-dump scheme? She was pretty sure that wasn’t covered in What to Expect When You’re Expecting—and she really hoped that Bradford Cohen, the noted criminal defense attorney who famously waived his exemption on The Apprentice, would prove them innocent. This Is Not My Beautiful Life is the story of how Victoria lost her parents to prison and nearly lost her mind. No one ever said motherhood would be easy, but as she struggles to change diapers, install car seats, and find the right drop-off line at pre-school—no easy task, when each one is named for a stage in the lifecycle of a f*cking butterfly—she’s also forced to ask herself whether a jump-suit might actually complement her mom’s platinum-blonde extensions and fend off the cast of shady, stranger-than-fiction characters (like the recovering addict who scored a reality show when he started an escort service for women) who populated her parents’ world. A real-life Arrested Development that could only unfold in southern Florida, This Is Not My Beautiful Life is a hilariously funny and unexpectedly moving memoir of a just-functional family you’ll never forget.

30 review for This Is Not My Beautiful Life: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amber S

    I am always a sucker for a good book on a dysfunctional family and this book hooked me right from the beginning. I was intrigued by the changing dynamics of the relationships and the evolution that each person makes over these few years. Each character remains strangely likable (family members anyway, not the randoms who seem for lack of a better term parasitic) even through the haze of criminal activity. Victoria's evolution from admittedly bratty child to self aware and self preserving adult w I am always a sucker for a good book on a dysfunctional family and this book hooked me right from the beginning. I was intrigued by the changing dynamics of the relationships and the evolution that each person makes over these few years. Each character remains strangely likable (family members anyway, not the randoms who seem for lack of a better term parasitic) even through the haze of criminal activity. Victoria's evolution from admittedly bratty child to self aware and self preserving adult was an interesting journey. I won an advanced copy of the book from a Goodreads giveaway.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Meh. Felt like I was reading the script for a low-brow reality show that thinks it's zany and edgy, never realizing it's just sad. I've never been entertained by people's misery and certainly not by adults whining about how hard adulting can be (aren't there enough 15-min of fame blogs out there?). Got the impression that the author was scrambling to find her writing hook--am I an overwhelmed mommy (ha ha--baby poop jokes. Check)? Am I a Kardashian-esque spoiled adult daughter mooching off her p Meh. Felt like I was reading the script for a low-brow reality show that thinks it's zany and edgy, never realizing it's just sad. I've never been entertained by people's misery and certainly not by adults whining about how hard adulting can be (aren't there enough 15-min of fame blogs out there?). Got the impression that the author was scrambling to find her writing hook--am I an overwhelmed mommy (ha ha--baby poop jokes. Check)? Am I a Kardashian-esque spoiled adult daughter mooching off her parents and living a life of faux opulence (above it all yet a participant)? Uneven writing. Sometimes poignant and eloquent, other times read like it had been penned just before deadline). Glad I didn't pay for this book. 2.5 stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    It was pretty surface-level stuff; I prefer a memoir that is more introspective. I never really found myself caring about the characters and a lot of parts were left hanging . . . like what medical condition did the mom end up having? When did the author and her sister start drifting apart and how did that affect her? Like BAM suddenly it was a summary sentence at the end of the book. Weird. Beach read - get it from the library.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    I won this book through Goodreads Giveaway. This book was a great read: nothing sweetened or sugarcoated. Victoria Fedden tells it like it is from her point of view, but she never gives up on her parents and ends up finding herself. I think most young people go through the stage of reliance - it's whether we figure that out and can learn to stand on our own 2 feet, or we continue to be shadowed and/or coddled by our parents. I really enjoyed this book because as a mother I don't always feel like I won this book through Goodreads Giveaway. This book was a great read: nothing sweetened or sugarcoated. Victoria Fedden tells it like it is from her point of view, but she never gives up on her parents and ends up finding herself. I think most young people go through the stage of reliance - it's whether we figure that out and can learn to stand on our own 2 feet, or we continue to be shadowed and/or coddled by our parents. I really enjoyed this book because as a mother I don't always feel like I can live up to others standards, especially other moms, but if I'm happy/healthy, my family is happy/healthy, we're moving in the right direction :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Underwood

    The first couple of chapters drew me in but as the book progressed, the author sounded more and more like a neurotic, whiney spoiled brat who refuses to grow up. Her husband is a saint to put up with such nonsense. Honestly, who runs off in the middle of the night leaving a newborn at home? Weird bunch and I am glad I borrowed the book from my library and not spend a dime on it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kerri

    I received this book as a advance reader's copy through a Goodreads giveaway. "This is not my beautiful life" is a memoir detailing the author's journey through the messy and often hilarious complications of her family life. At 36, she's living with her parents, weeks from giving birth, when the house is raided by law enforcement. I enjoyed this heartfelt honest reflection of the dysfunctional family she loves and her journey in recognizing her strength which enabled her see there are always goo I received this book as a advance reader's copy through a Goodreads giveaway. "This is not my beautiful life" is a memoir detailing the author's journey through the messy and often hilarious complications of her family life. At 36, she's living with her parents, weeks from giving birth, when the house is raided by law enforcement. I enjoyed this heartfelt honest reflection of the dysfunctional family she loves and her journey in recognizing her strength which enabled her see there are always good times in between the bad if we chose to recognize them.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Noelle

    A memoir on family dysfunction always draws me in. The array of characters was entertaining and I began to root for the writer to survive this trauma early on. Loved the way she told the story and offered insights into what she had learned along the way. She's hilarious too. The part about the granola moms had me on the floor. I plan to follow her blog and read anything else she writes. A memoir on family dysfunction always draws me in. The array of characters was entertaining and I began to root for the writer to survive this trauma early on. Loved the way she told the story and offered insights into what she had learned along the way. She's hilarious too. The part about the granola moms had me on the floor. I plan to follow her blog and read anything else she writes.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Don't bother. The first half of the book feels like satire more than a memoir. Second half then gets more serious. It's like 2 different books. I hated the authors family (or her description of them) so you don't feel sorry for anyone, including the author. Her husband is mentioned and in one chapter seems like a jerk, but the next a loving spouse. Just very disjointed. Don't bother. The first half of the book feels like satire more than a memoir. Second half then gets more serious. It's like 2 different books. I hated the authors family (or her description of them) so you don't feel sorry for anyone, including the author. Her husband is mentioned and in one chapter seems like a jerk, but the next a loving spouse. Just very disjointed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I loved it. She's been through some messed up shit, I've been through some messed up shit. I can relate. Keep your head up & your heart strong. The best way out is through. And having a sense of humor like she does helps a millionfold.. I loved it. She's been through some messed up shit, I've been through some messed up shit. I can relate. Keep your head up & your heart strong. The best way out is through. And having a sense of humor like she does helps a millionfold..

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I've been reading Victoria Fedden's blogs since Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds, where she wrote about her experiences working in a gated community in Florida. Her writing has always been funny, and her self-deprecation tempers her snide disapproval of people, well, people I would also disapprove of. She is in prime form in this book. This was not an introduction to her, um, "different" family - I've read about them in her blogs - but it was mostly additional material. Her family is definitely odd, b I've been reading Victoria Fedden's blogs since Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds, where she wrote about her experiences working in a gated community in Florida. Her writing has always been funny, and her self-deprecation tempers her snide disapproval of people, well, people I would also disapprove of. She is in prime form in this book. This was not an introduction to her, um, "different" family - I've read about them in her blogs - but it was mostly additional material. Her family is definitely odd, but it's the way she writes about them that makes them so interesting. And the way she writes about herself is very frank. The difficulties of motherhood, her depression, how she feels that she never fits in - these are serious issues. Without her sense of humor, it just wouldn't be funny. And it is funny, easy to read, and still affecting. This is good writing and good reading. But about her parents: they really are criminals, for all their denial, especially her mother's. They come across, even in her sympathetic telling, as amoral and greedy, even if they care about their family and friends. I did not come out liking them or feeling in the least bit sorry for them.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    the first chapter grabbed my attention. it started off strong. unfortunately, it dragged on by the middle. some humor. fascinating story especially when you know it's true. and all those crazy people her parents knew did exist. wow! i'm glad she was able to write & publish her story as i'm sure it was very therapeutic. i also thought it was more a story about being a new mom w/her parents drama in the background than a story about her parents. there was a lot of relatable stuff regarding being a new p the first chapter grabbed my attention. it started off strong. unfortunately, it dragged on by the middle. some humor. fascinating story especially when you know it's true. and all those crazy people her parents knew did exist. wow! i'm glad she was able to write & publish her story as i'm sure it was very therapeutic. i also thought it was more a story about being a new mom w/her parents drama in the background than a story about her parents. there was a lot of relatable stuff regarding being a new parent & the stresses surrounding that.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    This memoir is stranger than fiction. By the end of the book I was disgusted with everyone in her family. The author' purpose in writing this memoir seems to be to defend the life of crime her parents led and the spoils of crime that she enjoyed. This memoir is stranger than fiction. By the end of the book I was disgusted with everyone in her family. The author' purpose in writing this memoir seems to be to defend the life of crime her parents led and the spoils of crime that she enjoyed.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I won this book through Goodreads Giveaways. Overall I thought this book was an interesting read. The story moved along at a nice pace and the author's life was interesting enough to keep me tuned in. I will say the final sentencing of the parents was a little underwhelming for the majority of the book to be based on how the author may never see her parents again. It sounds as if the author had an interesting childhood and it would have been nice to get a deeper picture of what life was like for I won this book through Goodreads Giveaways. Overall I thought this book was an interesting read. The story moved along at a nice pace and the author's life was interesting enough to keep me tuned in. I will say the final sentencing of the parents was a little underwhelming for the majority of the book to be based on how the author may never see her parents again. It sounds as if the author had an interesting childhood and it would have been nice to get a deeper picture of what life was like for her as a child as most of the focus was on her life as an adult. Seeing a more in depth picture of how her childhood shaped her into the person that she is today could have helped explain why she faced this crisis as she did.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maya Sophia

    I basically stand by what I said in my last update: the humor kept missing the mark by a beat, but it was just outrageous and, frankly, kinda trashy enough for me to finish reading in the confines of a plane. It would probably be a suitable beach read, too. Towards the end, I started having some real problems with the actual writing and structure of the book. There were a lot of loose ends (her mom’s health, her relationship with her sister, and for some reason, her husband comes off as complete I basically stand by what I said in my last update: the humor kept missing the mark by a beat, but it was just outrageous and, frankly, kinda trashy enough for me to finish reading in the confines of a plane. It would probably be a suitable beach read, too. Towards the end, I started having some real problems with the actual writing and structure of the book. There were a lot of loose ends (her mom’s health, her relationship with her sister, and for some reason, her husband comes off as completely ambivalent, if not downright absent, until a very final passage in which he finally comes across as having even a basic notion of empathy and kindness). The whole thing was just okay and if it weren’t so outrageous, it probably wouldn’t have been worth it. Also for all the time she spent trying to convince me as a reader that it was unfathomable how her parents could have ended up in trouble with the feds, I could hardly find a redeeming quality between the two of them.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Grace Sutherlin

    This memoir is absolutely a must-read. Since I also write in the memoir genre and have a highly entertaining immediate and extended family, this book kept be absorbed from the first page. I especially appreciated the no-holds-barred writing style of Victoria Fedden. As a southerner I have a deep appreciation for writers who fearlessly put down their innermost thoughts and life happenings on the page. For me, some of the most poignant issues addressed in this memoir included living/coping with a dys This memoir is absolutely a must-read. Since I also write in the memoir genre and have a highly entertaining immediate and extended family, this book kept be absorbed from the first page. I especially appreciated the no-holds-barred writing style of Victoria Fedden. As a southerner I have a deep appreciation for writers who fearlessly put down their innermost thoughts and life happenings on the page. For me, some of the most poignant issues addressed in this memoir included living/coping with a dysfunctional family; finding your distinct voice and defining qualities; our darkest life moments often lead to life's most valuable lessons; it is not "things" that give life meaning but rather people; and most importantly, live in the present moment and cherish what you have when you have it because life can change in the blink of an eye. Excellent memoir and highly recommended.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    In my mind, it took huge guts for the author to write this very honest account of her feelings regarding her parents ideologies, career choices, and ultimately their arrests and the unraveling of the flamboyant and strange world they created and though their lavish generosity and 'good intentions' sucked so many others into. Cringe-worthy family dysfunction is both difficult and vicariously healing to read about. Realizing that we are not alone in our struggles - be it detaching from unhealthy f In my mind, it took huge guts for the author to write this very honest account of her feelings regarding her parents ideologies, career choices, and ultimately their arrests and the unraveling of the flamboyant and strange world they created and though their lavish generosity and 'good intentions' sucked so many others into. Cringe-worthy family dysfunction is both difficult and vicariously healing to read about. Realizing that we are not alone in our struggles - be it detaching from unhealthy family or battling our own relentless demons- give us hope and fosters our compassion for others who may have lived very different lives but are struggling and/or suffering in as many ways as we are. I am glad I read the book and admire Victoria Feddon for her bravery.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kyra M

    I quite liked this book, the beginning hooked me and was quite astonishing. I liked that she brought up aspects of a dysfunctional and broken family along with anxiety and depression. I enjoyed the pace of the book and how you need to work with your monsters and remember where you came from and what you can become.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andra Watkins

    I devoured Fedden's very dysfunctional family tale in a few hours. One of the best memoirs I've read in ages. It should be a Wes Anderson movie. I devoured Fedden's very dysfunctional family tale in a few hours. One of the best memoirs I've read in ages. It should be a Wes Anderson movie.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Great hook, and started out strong, but then it just felt like tired, run of the mill whining. Hey, it might be my mood, I feel a bit whiny myself.

  20. 4 out of 5

    maura kelly

    Ok Interesting story and she writes pretty well. But dragged a bit. The story needed to be better exited. But I finished it and that's saying a lot these days. Ok Interesting story and she writes pretty well. But dragged a bit. The story needed to be better exited. But I finished it and that's saying a lot these days.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Beauty in Truth Wonderful book...great fast read that makes you think. I hope to hear a lot more from this brilliant author. Definitely worth the read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Ugh! I wonder why I stuck with this book. I guess it was hard for me to believe there wouldn't be a twist to redeem it, but it never happened. Ugh! I wonder why I stuck with this book. I guess it was hard for me to believe there wouldn't be a twist to redeem it, but it never happened.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    This book is touted as a hilarious, wacky story, but mostly I found it sad. Frankly, Victoria is surrounded by terrible people, with maybe the exception of her sister. And I don't think they're terrible because they are committing crimes, they are terrible all on their own. The best parts of the book are when she is talking about motherhood and her daughter, and my heart hurt as she suffered through post-partum depression with no help or realization that she could get help. The book does deliver This book is touted as a hilarious, wacky story, but mostly I found it sad. Frankly, Victoria is surrounded by terrible people, with maybe the exception of her sister. And I don't think they're terrible because they are committing crimes, they are terrible all on their own. The best parts of the book are when she is talking about motherhood and her daughter, and my heart hurt as she suffered through post-partum depression with no help or realization that she could get help. The book does deliver on "wackiness", but you really should only read it if you can handle reading about a bunch of narcissists without wanting to throw things.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Morbihan Princess

    Love Victoria's work since finding her now disappeared blog, started whilst working in the confines of an elite gated community. Taking up from Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat, this gives a wider view on her dysfunctional but lovable family, her Mathers partners get rich quick disasters, her foray into various jobs and a wonderfully skewed view of the Floridian residents. Her writing style, her voice, is unique and draws you in. Love Victoria's work since finding her now disappeared blog, started whilst working in the confines of an elite gated community. Taking up from Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat, this gives a wider view on her dysfunctional but lovable family, her Mathers partners get rich quick disasters, her foray into various jobs and a wonderfully skewed view of the Floridian residents. Her writing style, her voice, is unique and draws you in.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    I don't usually read memoirs but this one made it into my kobo somehow. I'm glad I read it. A late middle thirties woman finds herself very pregnant and answering the door of her mother's house to DEA agents. What follows is the story of her family, how she grew in the midst of a crazy, dysfunctional, wonderful mother, a sister who was really her mother's half sister, a step father that was the only father who ever counted, how she coped with post partum depression and how she ultimately found h I don't usually read memoirs but this one made it into my kobo somehow. I'm glad I read it. A late middle thirties woman finds herself very pregnant and answering the door of her mother's house to DEA agents. What follows is the story of her family, how she grew in the midst of a crazy, dysfunctional, wonderful mother, a sister who was really her mother's half sister, a step father that was the only father who ever counted, how she coped with post partum depression and how she ultimately found her self and her "family". A good read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Adrien Goucher

    I've never read a memoir before and I'm glad I started with this one. I found her story captivating, and was immersed with the characters so much that I got frustrated with her. It didnt sugarcoat life and it gave her raw emotionally opinion on how she felt and what was running through her mind through everything she went through. She perfectly represented that it doesnt matter how old you are, sometimes you are always trying to "grow up" and do your best. I've never read a memoir before and I'm glad I started with this one. I found her story captivating, and was immersed with the characters so much that I got frustrated with her. It didnt sugarcoat life and it gave her raw emotionally opinion on how she felt and what was running through her mind through everything she went through. She perfectly represented that it doesnt matter how old you are, sometimes you are always trying to "grow up" and do your best.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    I've never heard about the author's parents' case before, but I loved her story! It was funny (laughed out loud a few times), and very relatable emotion-wise (not relatable to me circumstance-wise ;)). Definitely a book you can read in a day (which is what happened to me) that will have you laughing and getting a glimpse into a pretty colorful family. Liked it a lot. I've never heard about the author's parents' case before, but I loved her story! It was funny (laughed out loud a few times), and very relatable emotion-wise (not relatable to me circumstance-wise ;)). Definitely a book you can read in a day (which is what happened to me) that will have you laughing and getting a glimpse into a pretty colorful family. Liked it a lot.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I really enjoyed this book. What a life! I haven't read many memoirs so this was way out of my comfort zone but I do not regret it one bit. Thoroughly rapt the entire book. It wasn't a feel good book nor was it wrapped up in a tidy bow. It offered insight into Victoria's disfunctional life with her nutso parents. By the end of the book I wanted to be her BFF. :) I really enjoyed this book. What a life! I haven't read many memoirs so this was way out of my comfort zone but I do not regret it one bit. Thoroughly rapt the entire book. It wasn't a feel good book nor was it wrapped up in a tidy bow. It offered insight into Victoria's disfunctional life with her nutso parents. By the end of the book I wanted to be her BFF. :)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    Despite promising reviews, this memoir never grabbed me. It's repetitive in a reality show kind of way and never really rises to the level of introspection in a good memoir. I ended up skimming the last third for highlights. Once I realized this writer started as a blogger, it made more sense. Meh. Despite promising reviews, this memoir never grabbed me. It's repetitive in a reality show kind of way and never really rises to the level of introspection in a good memoir. I ended up skimming the last third for highlights. Once I realized this writer started as a blogger, it made more sense. Meh.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Thiessen

    I was not a fan of this book. I think it was partly due to the fact it was a memoir and I didn’t realized until reading a little bit of it and expecting a fictional story. I couldn’t handle the author’s attitude about her situation and her thoughts/views.. just not my cup of type.

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