Fiction Ruined My Family

Fiction Ruined My Family

by Jeanne Darst


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594486173
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/06/2012
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jeanne Darst is a writer/performer who has written for The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, and performed her solo plays in bars, barns, and living rooms across the country. An excerpt from this book on aired on This American Life. She lives in Los Angeles.

What People are Saying About This

Julie Klam

“Jeanne Darst manages to evoke humor and despair in a single sentence. I found myself rooting so hard for her. Fiction Ruined My Family is a great testament to surviving and overcoming wacky parents. A wonderful book.” --(Julie Klam, author of You Had Me at Woof)

Wendy Burden

“Jeanne Darst is funnier than a blotto WASP in a Lily Pulitzer wheelchair.”--(Wendy Burden, author of Dead End Gene Pool )

Patricia Marx

“In the tradition of the Mitford sisters’ chronicles (but minus Hitler), Fiction Ruined My Family is both a very funny tragedy and a very sad comedy.”--(Patricia Marx, author of Him Her Him Again and the End of Him )

Meghan Daum

"As Tolstoy might have said if he'd survived the 1970s, happy families are all alike but every narcissistic parent is narcissistic in his or her own way. Jeanne Darst tells a story not only of family neuroses, artistic delusions and thwarted dreams but also of the nuances of social class, the tension between domesticity and bohemenianism, and the tragicomedy that comes from faking it but never quite making it. All my favorite themes! I also laughed out loud more times than I can count."--(Meghan Daum, author of My Misspent Youth and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House)

Sloane Crosley

“Dazzlingly funny, gut wrenching and infested with writing that will absolutely floor you. Fiction Ruined My Family has ruined me—how will I ever be able to use those adjectives again and mean them as much as I do now?”--(Sloane Crosley, author of How Did You Get This Number)

From the Publisher

Fiction Ruined My Family had me laughing out loud, which I almost never do, with one jaw-dropping scene after another. On nearly every page there’s some sentence that's so perfect, in an old-school Oscar Wilde/Dorothy Parker sort of way, that it made everything I've ever written or said seem like dull, drunken mumbling.” – Ira Glass, host of This American Life
“Jeanne Darst’s memoir unfolds like a Eugene O’Neill play, with all the boozing and the weeping and the exclamatory self-pity. Only it’s also very funny, and it has a happy ending (more or less). Snap this book up.”—Tad Friend, author of Cheerful Money
“As Tolstoy might have said if he'd survived the 1970s, happy families are all alike but every narcissistic parent is narcissistic in his or her own way. Jeanne Darst tells a story not only of family neuroses, artistic delusions and thwarted dreams but also of the nuances of social class, the tension between domesticity and bohemenianism, and the tragicomedy that comes from faking it but never quite making it. All my favorite themes!  I also laughed out loud more times than I can count.”—Meghan Daum, author of My Misspent Youth and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House
“Jeanne Darst is funnier than a blotto WASP in a Lily Pulitzer wheelchair.”—Wendy Burden, author of Dead End Gene Pool 
“In the tradition of the Mitford sisters' chronicles (but minus Hitler), Fiction Ruined My Family  is both a very funny tragedy and a very sad comedy.”—Patricia Marx, author of Him Her Him Again and the End of Him
“Dazzlingly funny, gut wrenching and infested with writing that will absolutely floor you. Fiction Ruined My Family has ruined me—how will I ever be able to use those adjectives again and mean them as much as I do now?”—Sloane Crosley, author of How Did You Get This Number
“Jeanne Darst manages to evoke humor and despair in a single sentence. I found myself rooting so hard for her. Fiction Ruined My Family is a great testament to surviving and overcoming wacky parents. A wonderful book.” – Julie Klam, author of You Had Me at Woof

Reading Group Guide


The youngest of four daughters in an old, celebrated St. Louis family of prominent journalists and politicians on one side, debutantes and equestrians on the other, Jeanne Darst grew up hearing stories of past grandeur. And the message she internalized as a young girl was clear: While things might be a bit tight for us right now, it’s only temporary. Soon her father would sell the Great American Novel and reclaim the family’s former glory.

The Darsts uproot themselves and move from St. Louis to New York. Jeanne’s father writes one novel, and then another, which don’t find publishers. This, combined with her mother’s burgeoning alcoholism—nightly booze–fueled weepathons reminiscing about her fancy childhood—lead to financial disaster and divorce. And as Jeanne becomes an adult, she is horrified to discover that she is not only a drinker like her mother, but a writer like her father.

At first, and for years, she embraces both activities—living in an apartment with no bathroom, stealing food from her babysitting gigs, and raising rent money by riding the subway topless and performing a one–woman show in her living room. Until gradually she realizes that this life has not been thrust on her in some handing–down–of–the–writing–mantle–way. She has chosen it; and until she can stop putting drinking and writing ahead of everything else, it’s a questionable choice. “For a long time I was worried about becoming my father,“ she writes. “Then I was worried about becoming my mother. Now I was worried about becoming myself.“ Ultimately, Darst sets out to discover whether a person can have the writing without the ruin, whether it’s possible to be both sober and creative, ambitious and happy, a professional author and a parent. Filled with brilliantly flawed, idiosyncratic characters and punctuated by Darst’s irreverent eye for absurdity, Fiction Ruined My Family is a lovingly told, wickedly funny portrait of an unconventional life.



Jeanne Darst is a writer and performer who has written for The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine and performed her solo plays in bars, barns, and living rooms across the country. An excerpt of this book aired on This American Life. She lives in Los Angeles.


  • Both Jeanne Darst and her father are committed to being writers, in part, because they can’t imagine being anything else. Is writing a calling or a career? Is her father any less a writer because he’s never published a book?
  • The Darsts didn’t have health insurance, and their “Torino wagon was now so rusted through that you could see the road from a hole in the backseat floor“ (p. 47). Yet they lived in Westchester, and Doris had family heirlooms to sell when money was really tight. Why do you think the Darsts hold on to the trappings of their former life? Why do these symbols matter?
  • Jeanne Darst writes with deep humor that often masks real emotional pain. How does she use humor as a means for navigating her life? Do you think this is a helpful mechanism? Does her humor alter the reader’s response to what is happening to her parents?
  • The book declares that “fiction ruined my family“ and Darst’s father’s obsession with F. Scott Fitzgerald seems to indicate that even if you can write “the great American novel,“ you still might have a tragic personal life. Why is F. Scott Fitzgerald so important to Darst’s father? How do the fictions we tell ourselves help or hurt us?
  • Darst doesn’t want to follow in her father’s footsteps as a writer because she’s afraid of the damage it would cause, but mocks her therapist for suggesting she get a “real“ job. Is it necessary to be self–destructive to be an artist? Why do you think this myth persists in our culture?
  • Darst’s parents eventually divorce, but never really end their dysfunctional relationship. Why do they cling to each other? Do you think if they had divorced earlier in life, their lives would have been different?
  • Darst winds up falling into the worst habits of her parents: her mother’s alcoholism and her father’s determination to be a writer. How much agency did she have over these choices? Discuss the role that family heritage plays in your decision making as an adult.
  • Writing ends up being a salvation to Darst. Do you think Darst would have gotten sober without being able to channel her energy into writing? In what way does writing allow her to be a healthy adult and raise a child?
  • Jeanne Darst’s father obtains and then quickly leaves more “normal“ jobs. Why do you think he is so reluctant to have a more conventional career? Why does he persist in being a writer?
  • At the end of the book, Darst is starting her own family and continuing on her career as a writer. How can she keep fiction from ruining her new family?
  • Customer Reviews

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    Fiction Ruined My Family 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
    voyager8 More than 1 year ago
    Memoirs are my genre of choice so I may be a bit more critical as I read much to compare but this was pretentious name dropping crap. I didn't get thru it, a waste of my time and money. Now Whateverland by Alexis Stewart is turning out to be a pleasant surprise..enjoying every un pretentious word!!!!!
    CorporateHippie More than 1 year ago
    I am complete stranger to the writer and have nothing to gain or lose by writing this review, other than sharing something that I enjoyed. I saw Ms Darst read from her book at BookCourt in Brooklyn, and got a sense of her "scrappy" personality and deadpan humor. I picked up the book right after that and finished it in two evenings. I think this book is one of the best in the genre of humorous memoir, right up there with works by Sara Barron, Wendy Burden, and Haven Kimmel. Jeanne has some great characters to work with, particularly her father. One of the key insights is "Like all tragic heroes he has a fundamental lack of self-awareness." She also makes herself the target of much of the humor. She realizes that she inherited some of the traits of both her mother and her father, and is constantly trying to prove that "I am not an id-i-ot." Let me give one example of her humor. "As a kid I was absolutely terrified of cliches. My father forbade them in our home... They were gateway language leading straight to a business major, a golfy marriage, needlepoint pillows that said things about your golf game, and a self-inflicted gunshot to your head that your family called a heart attach in your alma mater announcements." Besides the humor, I like the writer's unsentimental exploration of her emotions about the decline of her parents, and her own struggle as a starving artist. I highly recommend this book to other readers. You will laugh.
    ali_marea on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    Fiction Ruined My Family is more than a memoir, to me. It's more than comedy or tragedy. I'm going to go so far as to say that Jeanne Darst is the female David Sedaris. Her story-telling is a bit different, true, but her voice is much the same. She's charming and likeable, yet blunt and vulgar at times. Which meant, of course, that I loved this book!As a writer who never seems to write, I could really appreciate Jeanne's loving, yet frusrated, description of her writer father. His love of good books and 'the story' behind everything is something I could relate to. In fact, his willingness to work for his dream, regardless of cost, was something I admired. Yet, nothing more than a few articles ever really materialized for the man. Then Darst shows the true story of how the starving artist lifestyle affects a family. The romance of a creative existence dwindles with each painful retelling of poverty and, at times, despair.Jeanne Darst's parents both grew up comfortably. Her mother grew up well-off, and expected a similar lifestyle as an adult. The fact that her father's writing career never flourished could not put a damper on her mother's desire to live the lavish lifestyle, to which she seemed entitled. When Darst's father decided it was time to uproot the family from St. Louis and move them to a 'farm' that in reality ended up being more like a commune where artists went to languish. Her father's intention was to write his big break-out novel. Then the family would move back to St. Louis and go back to the life they'd always known.Not only did they never return to St. Louis, but the lifestyle they once knew was never to return. When grandmother (Nonnie) died, Jeanne's mother inherited some money to keep hersel and the girls afloat, but also seemed to inherit a new personality. One that apparently drank more, cried more, and smiled less. Broke and unsuccessful at his attemp to write a novel, Jeanne's father took a job at CBS, but never really got his act together enough to write more.As Jeanne Darst takes us on her life's journey, she unabashedly shares her stories of partying, careless attempts at jobs, and increasingly, drinking like her mother.As Jeanne herself wrote, "For a long time I was worried about becoming my father. Then I was worried about becoming my mother. Now I was worried about becoming myself."Darst navigates her life, eventually figuring out how to be herself and be successful at the same time. The wild ride to get there is definitely worth a read.There were a few quirks that I found mildly distracting. Some sentences seemed to fragment in ways that weren't intuitive to me. In places, the wording seemed either forced or awkward. And sometimes there's a feel of 'stream-of-consciousness' that seems to come out of nowhere. None of those things take away from the overall goodness of the story, however.I recommend this book. It's worth a read and is good for a few laughs. Darst is funny and sympathetic and on her way up.
    Litgirl7 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    I really liked this book! A memoir by Jeanne Darst- one of four sisters, who grew up with their eccentric mother (five feet tall, with a fur coat and heels-drink in one hand, cigarette in the other) and her faux 'novelist' father- an extremely well read and intelligent man, who had ambition,but no follow through. Books, reading and writing figure prominently, as do money (the lack thereof) and alcohol. Though both parents come from money and social prominence, they have neither in their life together.I liked the author's descriptions, for instance, when describing her grandmothers lack of interest in reading, she says: 'I don't remember any books in her house at all. Seeing a copy of the Grapes Of Wrath in her living room would have been like spotting a dead falcon on her coffee table' On the other hand, her sister Liz's love of books was something quite different: 'She loved the book as object. I remember the shame I felt, more than once, when Liz caught me placing a book on it's spine or dog-earing it's pages: "Jeanne, you can't do that to books! Look what you did," and she would hold it up for me to consider it's plight. "You can't treat books this way!" she would say, as if you had just stubbed out your cigarette between Lassie's eyes.Jeanne is a wild one, a drinker (like her mom) and and an aspiring writer (like her Dad) and she takes to booze like a duck to water. Ironically, she cuts back on her drinking in college, because her fellow classmates aren't hard enough, are mere amateurs. When they ask her to party she thinks: With three four-packs of Bartles and James? I don't want to be stuck with a case of alcoholic blue-balls when you ladies run out of wine coolers and pass out and I can't get anything else to drink! No way!.There are lots of funny stories, the kind that are funny when you look back, perhaps not so much while you're living it. There is a Lauren Hutton story that had me rolling! I think the author comes across as witty, intelligent and extremely honest. Her parents, themselves much funnier in retrospect (her Mom loses her skirt- literally- while out shopping with one of her daughters- and is walking through NYC in a fancy shirt, jewelry, stockings and high heels for God knows how long. Another great story) There is also sadness, lots of underlying sadness, but overall it's about how our parents are who they are-like it or not- and how we have to deal with them AS IS, and also, how sometimes we posses some of the very traits that we can't stand in them, despite witnessing the aftermath of these negative behaviors. I liked her acceptance of that, and enjoyed watching her come to it. I even liked the cover art of this book. I feel like I went on a really cool, interesting and quirky trip with this author, and the book left me wishing I actually knew her! I will be keeping a look-out for anything she writes in the future!!
    alanna1122 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    I mostly enjoyed this book - but felt that the last 1/3 was like reading a different book.I really liked the author's conversational style of writing. Reading along really felt like (especially for the first 2/3s of the book) just listening to a funny friend tell the story of her life. There was a lot here that could have been really cringe worthy. I have a love/hate relationship with memoirs. I love reading stories about people's lives - but I have a hard time not worrying about the effect of publicly telling unflattering stories about family members. The author seems to handle this all really well especially in the beginning of the book. Her early life was crazy - thanks in no small part to her parents - but somehow she doesn't see like she is condemning them for their actions (or inactions) rather - she is able to keep it light and funny.Later in the book - when revealing and then describing her own spiral down into alcoholism then subsequent recovery - I feel like the book lost a lot of its charm and got bogged down in a lot of self analysis and even the light she portrayed the rest of her family in starts to shift and felt a lot more critical and really brought the book down.There are some really wonderful, memorable parts to this book. I wish that it had been able to maintain its mood the whole way through - or perhaps maybe if that was impossible due to the events in the author's life - maybe it would have been a better editorial choice to end it sooner rather than to feel it necessary to bring it all the way up to present time.
    sjurban on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    I wanted to like this book, but the writing was dry and I didn't care for the characters. That sounds harsh because this is a memoir and the "characters" are real people. The writing just wasn't polished enough or compelling enough to keep me interested.
    vasquirrel on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    I thoroughly enjoyed Darst's memoir and her (now) clear-eyed observations of both her mother's alcoholism and her father's obsessive and compulsive quest for literary success (spending decades on "research" for a biography of F. Scott and Zelda Fitgerald). Finding herself in the grip of the demons that beset her parents, she honestly chronicles both the road to that realization and her efforts to change HER ending.
    melthefishy on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    Like many of my fellow reviewers, I felt that what I pulled from the description and what my end impressions were two totally different perspectives. I wanted to to feel more for the people, but it was difficult due the writing style. Now, I enjoy memoirs, but I couldn't get more involved or connected with anything in this book. Perhaps my own personal life experiences caused such a discord, but I do look forward to reading more from this author and trying this book again in another few months to see if my perceptions change.
    MeganAngela on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    I hate to do this. I really do. Especially considering that by giving this book a rating, I feel as if I am rating the person, even though that is not what I am doing. I have to give this memoir a two star review.What attracted me to the memoir at first was the description. Who wouldn't enjoy a deeply witty book about drinking, demons, family dysfunction and the all encompassing writing bug? However, once I started to read the book, I saw that this book wasn't deeply witty, it was deeply sad.The first third and last third of the book were actually quite good. I found myself really understanding Darst and her family life, if only for a moment. The middle, unfortunately, left a very sour taste in my mouth. The Jeanne Darst we see in this portion is not, in my opinion, a person you can easily like. Granted, the middle of the memoir is when she is in her deepest throes of alcoholism, but some of the things she writes leaves me cold. While at times you can tell that the commentary is meant to be from "past Jeanne", sometimes the horrible things she says seem to come from "modern Jeanne", and it would make me incredibly disgusted. I mean, it is one thing for "past Jeanne" to act the part of the self-centered alcoholic when her therapist begins to cry at a session because she has Lyme disease and the hospital is giving her the run around about a procedure. It is completely another when a grown, sober woman infers that because of this that the therapist was broken and shouldn't be doing her job. It was heartless.Darst also didn't seem to have a filter for things that might have been better left unsaid. I know that she probably wanted to capture the full "truth" of certain instances and really convey how messed up her family was, but for God sakes, did she have to take all the dignity away from her father when she talked about seeing his genitals as he is writhing in a hospital bed?I will say that I think that Jeanne Darst is a very capable writer. In fact, there was one pun she made that stuck with me and will probably continue to stand out in the future. When she said that one of her college co-workers had a "latemotif" running throughout her life, I chuckled. As a writer and a musician, I really appreciated what she did with that phrase. It was quite clever! Darst has a great feel for language and THAT was what kept me reading. I wanted to see how she would phrase and describe things!My biggest issue is that Darst was mostly unlikeable in the heart of the memoir, which I am sure was due to being the self-centered alcoholic. However, when some of her lack of remorse for appalling situations seems to be coming from the modern Darst, it left me wondering if the jerky behavior was due to the alcohol or if it was just her. The reason I don't know if I buy that is because she does have so much clarity, understanding and kindness in the latter part of the book that I want to just chalk it up to poor editing or word choice. Perhaps it is something she may want to revisit in the future if that is not the way she wanted to be portrayed in her own writing.The writing and the book are actually quite good, and if you are into authors like David Sedaris, then this might be right up your alley (I'm not a Sedaris fan, so that could be why this type of humor doesn't resonate with me). For me, it just wasn't the deeply witty book it was touted to be. I was more saddened and horrified by her life than laughing. I am glad that she is in a much better place with her life and wish her the best because after all she has been through, she DOES deserve to find that happiness and for those pieces to fall into place! What she struggled through and overcame is immeasurable, and for that I have to give her all the credit in the world. I think she is stronger than she thinks and more than she could ever imagine. You see glimmers of that person, and THAT is the Jeanne Darst that I find to be lovable and amazing. That is the Darst tha
    Jackie.the.Librarian on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    Jeanne Darst has lived a life built for the modern memoir. You¿ve got the archetypal mix of dysfunctional parents, tight finances, alcoholism, and a variety of quirky locales for setting. You¿d think this combo would give you a typical memoir ¿ but it doesn¿t. Perhaps it¿s the added ingredient of literature-fueled insanity that pulls this one through. Maybe it¿s Darst¿s naked truths; these are definitely not glossed over to show her in a better light. Darst grew up the youngest of four daughters in a family that makes the Osbournes seem like Ozzie and Harriet. Her father came from an illustrious family of law and literature and her mother was raised to be the Belle of the debutante ball. Perhaps what drew her parents together was their proclivity for self-destruction; Darst¿s mother picks alcohol as her weapon. Her father chooses the route of self-delusion. The Darst clan moves around the country on flitting whims from St. Louis, to Long Island, to Bronxville, and finally to New York City. Neither of the author¿s parents seems to know what to do with their children and her older sisters have targeted her as the ¿idiote¿ of the family unit. As Darst grows up, she inherits her mother¿s love of liquor and her father¿s obsession with the written word. As she struggles with these demons, we witness every humiliation, every scorched dream. And although it¿s tragic, it¿s also hilarious. Some of Darst¿s recollections go on a bit too long and the chapters seem to collide into one-another which is jarring to the reader. But those issues aside, this book was a laugh-inducing (and cringe-provoking) success.
    missysbooknook on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    This memoir made me......sad.I went to school with these girls, one of them was in my class. It is funny, because looking back, I had Jeanne and her family pegged as the typical Bronxville NY family, well-to-do, without a care in the world. I had no idea what she and her siblings were dealing with. Just goes to show you that you may think someone else's life is all sunshine and rainbows....when in reality, it's not.I think Jeanne Darst is a brave soul for writing this took a lot of courage. She seems to be very well-adjusted to have had such a "different" upbringing. And, she is pretty damn funny!
    lesliecp on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    Jeanne Darst can be very, very funny. Unfortunately, she can also be very, very unlikable. I enjoy memoirs, especially those about writing, family dynamics and quirky characters. This book was the literary equivalent of the Jerry Springer show. A lot of posturing for attention with little substance. Jeanne Darst's anger at her parents for making selfish life choices in the name of art is clear. She is unsparing in detailing her parent's mistakes and failures. However, she seems to find her own similar choices cute and amusing. I'll give this book two stars for the humor.
    NewsieQ on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    It¿s best to not know too much about Fiction Ruined My Family before jumping in. The Darsts are an exquisitely dysfunctional family: dad, a failed writer; mom, a sometimes lovable lush; four daughters. ¿Normal¿ is never in the cards for them. Jeanne is the youngest. She is bawdy, profane and funny. Fiction Ruined My Family is not my normal cup of tea. But reading it was like rubber-necking at a train wreck. I couldn¿t help myself.
    saroz on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    I have to agree with what some of the other reviewers have said about this book. When I requested the book on Early Reviewers, I was expecting something very witty and probably ultimately redemptive in some way - rather like what I get from the essays of David Sedaris (and I'm not surprised to see Darst's writing compared to Sedaris by many here). The difference is that although Sedaris pokes holes in all of his subjects, especially his family, he is willing to make himself his own biggest target. His essays reach a point of sheer madness that as a reader, you get beyond what probably were stressful, uncomfortable family events in his life and see how ridiculous it all is - and you laugh. It's a bit like how you can go through something crazy with your own family and, five years later, you suddenly see the humor. Sedaris has the rare ability to make you feel like you were part of it from the beginning. Darst lacks that skill. Her book has moments that start to reach that type of comic transcendence - and then she pulls back sharply, usually with a cutting remark or, even more simply, a lack of reflection. Mostly, she just seems to be very, very angry - a raw anger at her parents, her family and herself that doesn't appear to have healed at all with time. It's hard to see any real affection she has for her parents - especially her mother - and when she claims to have it, well, it's hard to believe. There are no levels to her emotions, at least as presented in the book. And so instead of the revelatory caustic wit of a Sedaris, you're left with the grim task of someone who sounds like she's telling stories just to embarrass her family (and, perhaps, to receive pity). That might not be the case, but it's how it comes across. What did she learn from her parents' mistakes? Anything? The big lesson seems to be that she has realized how much they made her a failure - and she hates them for it. That's not redemptive; that's just feeling sorry for yourself. That's not to say there aren't some funny moments in the course of the story - there certainly are. However, for every time I laughed, there were three other times where I simply felt terribly, terribly sorry for these people: Darst, her sister, her parents. I almost wish I could hear the story from, say, her dad's point of view, just to see how what it's like. I feel like I got just one side of things from Darst - a cathartic tale for the author, sure, but something that left me feeling terribly uncomfortable as a reader.
    tjsjohanna on LibraryThing 7 months ago
    Ms Darst is a good writer - but there really wasn't anything in this book that hooked me. Her attempt to explain why she had to work nothing jobs and live on the edge of survival in order to write didn't quite convince me, especially since she kept tossing in the observation that she knew successful writers who weren't living this life. Up until she quits drinking, her life as she describes it is a messy mess and there wasn't anything that I found particularly funny. I think she would be a hard person to be around and she certainly took in at a basic level the lessons that her parents taught her about sacrificing people for one's own interests.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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    obeythekitty More than 1 year ago
    description of author's family quite funny but got boring when she shifted focus to her own alcoholism
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Falls asleep* ((ou need to buy baby stuff