cover image TakeThis Man

TakeThis Man

Brando Skyhorse. Simon & Schuster, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7087-8

Skyhorse’s (The Madonnas of Echo Park) vivid and idiosyncratic family memoir traces his ongoing struggle to search for an identity and fatherly guidance amidst his entanglement in his mother’s chaotic lifestyle. Spanning Skyhorse’s life, the book focuses primarily on his childhood growing up Echo Park, Los Angeles, from the late 1970s through the early ’90s.Skyhorse’s mother split with his biological father when he was three and proceeded to shuffle through a slough of unreliable husbands (including alcoholics; ex-cons who get arrested at Disneyland; and deadbeats who steal from the boy’s piggy bank) whom Skyhorse was expected to adopt immediately as fathers (and sometimes to help her seek them out) though most of them didn’t stick around for very long. The only constants at home were his critical, “mythmaking,” phone-sex operator mother (who tells her son he is Indian, though the family is Mexican, and changes his name) and brash, larger-than-life grandmother. As he grows older, Skyhorse tries to detach from his argumentative family, first by leaving for college at Stanford and later with his girlfriend to live in New York City. Skyhorse’s upbringing has had lasting effects on his romantic relationships and mental health, but he manages to write about his experiences and those who shaped them with grace. By turns darkly comical and moving, this powerful memoir of a family in flux will stick with readers well after they’ve put it down. Agent: Susan Golomb. (June)