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Meant to Be

Meant to Be

5.0 1
by Walter Anderson

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For many years, Parade magazine's Walter Anderson, one of America's most admired editors, harbored a deep secret about his heritage and the circumstances of his birth. With the publication of this affecting memoir, he reveals the truth about his life and tells the inspirational story of his rags-to-riches career.

Anderson grew up on the "wrong side of the


For many years, Parade magazine's Walter Anderson, one of America's most admired editors, harbored a deep secret about his heritage and the circumstances of his birth. With the publication of this affecting memoir, he reveals the truth about his life and tells the inspirational story of his rags-to-riches career.

Anderson grew up on the "wrong side of the tracks" in Mount Vernon, New York, the youngest child of an alcoholic, abusive father. He escaped his situation by quitting high school at sixteen to join the Marines. Four years later, while on leave to attend his father's funeral, he stuns his mother with a question that has inexplicably haunted him since he was a small boy: Was the man who had so tormented him in his childhood his real father? Her answer: Walter was born of a wartime love affair between his Protestant mother and the Jewish man she loved. His mother swears him to secrecy, and he honors their pact for nearly thirty-five years, and then one day he meets an unknown brother — another son of his real father — who has lived a similar, nearly parallel life. Their secret, in ways large and small, defines the course of his life.

Meant To Be is a love story, a journey of self-discovery and spiritual reckoning, and a provocative challenge to commonly held notions about the role of heredity in our lives. Passionately told and deeply moving, Anderson's memoir is the mesmerizing story that he was always meant to tell.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
On the day of his father's funeral in 1969, Anderson, the longtime editor of Parade magazine and CEO of Parade Publications, asked his mother a question that had been on his mind for years: "The man we just buried... Was he my father?" She admitted Anderson's real father had been a Russian-Jewish man she fell in love with while her husband was fighting in WWII. Learning he was, in fact, not the son of the abusive, drunken man who'd raised him would change the course of Anderson's life, but he honored his mother's wish to keep her secret while his two siblings were alive. Thirty-four years later, his astonishingly honest account of his family history is bound to become a coming-of-age classic. Anderson's deft handling of his impoverished childhood in Mount Vernon, N.Y., bears no trace of self-pity. He doesn't gloss over the incessant beatings he suffered at home or the cruelty and taunting he endured on the streets, but he also manages to pay tribute to the neighborhood mother who took an interest in his education and the friends who stuck by his side. Although Anderson's account of his college years and early days in publishing are riveting, the pieces of his puzzle really fall into place when he finally tracks down his half-brother, Herbert Dorfman. The build-up to their first conversation is the stuff of blockbuster suspense and, when it finally happens, Dorfman says it all: "This is simply amazing." Agent, Jack Scovil. (Sept.) Forecast: Anderson's connections to Parade, which has a circulation of roughly 36 million, are enough to make this book a hit, but they'll be aided by blurbs from Elie Wiesel, Marlo Thomas, Bill Bradley and other luminaries. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Anderson had a real surprise when he returned from Vietnam; he learned that his real father was not the man who raised him but a POW with whom his mother had an affair. That didn't stop Anderson from becoming editor of Parade. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A lean, readable, and sanguine memoir celebrating an adult rite of passage. In brief, briskly paced chapters explaining how he finally came to meet his biological father, former Parade magazine editor Anderson frequently pauses to interject Deep Thoughts and Philosophical Questions. "Why is God unfair?" "How can I marry Loretta?" "Elie [Wiesel] understands, Mom. This hurts more than I expected." (This last as he looks at his dead mother.) These literary public-service announcements interrupt rather than enhance a remarkable story. Only after his father died could 21-year-old Anderson finally ask his mother the question that had bothered him since childhood: who was his father? The man who had just died beat Anderson so often that the promising student left school early and joined the Marines to get away from home. He�d always sensed that he was different from his two older siblings, both in temperament and appearance, and his mother confirmed these feelings. His real father, she told him, was Albert Dorfman, a Jewish co-worker with whom she had an affair during WWII while her husband was fighting in Europe. Recalling his tough childhood in an equally tough neighborhood, his experiences as a sergeant in Vietnam, and the hardships following his return (protests against the war, he believes, made finding a job difficult), Anderson also details his alienation and anger during those years. Learning the truth helped; he attended college, found work at a newspaper, and married happily. Because his mother had made him promise not to tell his siblings about her affair, he only felt free to find his real father after they died in middle age. All ends well as families meet and bond, and Anderson, nolonger angry, finds meaning in his life. Self-help and grit vividly affirmed.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.89(d)

Meet the Author

Walter Anderson has been editor of Parade since June 1980. He is a member of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Sciences, and he serves on the boards of Literacy Volunteers of America, the National Center for Family Literacy, the National Dropout Prevention Fund, Very Special Arts, the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, and PBS.

He received a 1994 Hortio Alger Award, for which he was nominated by the late Norman Vincent Peale, and the Jewish National Fund's Tree of Life Award, which he received from Elie Wiesel. He lives in White Plains, New York, with his wife Loretta. They have two children.

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Meant to Be: A Memoir: The True Story of a Son Who Discovers He Is His Mother's Deepest Secret 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Anderson has allowed us a glimpse of life that reveals the unexpected and unusual that can befall us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have trouble with 'professional' reviewers when they review memoirs or autobiographies. How does one get inside someone else's head, heart or soul and then 'review' that person's life? That said, your book was sensitive, honest and brave. It takes grit to relive it much less put it down on paper and share it. I read it in one sitting on a dreary autumn afternoon. The weather suited your description of your emotional trip to Russia. Although, I was deeply touched with your story as a whole, your 'speech' to Ivanko was stellar. I wish you well and continued happiness with your 'new' family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Anderson I can relate with you I never knew my real dad either and I had abusive step 'fathers' one physically and one mentally so I can relate to both sides of the spectrum and this all happened to me before the age of 12 but I'm now 15 and doing good thanks for writing this book!