On the day that author James Jones died, he made one final request of his daughter: stop your mother from having too much to drink. Kaylie Jones, daughter of James and Gloria Jones, was brought up living a life of privilege with her adopted brother Jamie. At an early age, Kaylie and her brother were exposed to their parents’ drinking parties. Although alcohol did not seem to make an impact on Jamie, it affected Kaylie and nearly destroyed her life. In her memoir, Lies My Mother Never Told Me, Kaylie recounts her experiences growing up with her famous father and her social butterfly mother.
Despite their differences, the one thing Kaylie had in common with her mother was the strong desire to drink. Though all the symptoms of being an alcoholic were present, Kaylie continuously refused to acknowledge that she had turned into one. Kaylie turns to her father’s novels for inspiration and discovers that she wants to pursue a writing career. After much effort, Kaylie is finally able to overcome her addiction and moves on from her deteriorated marriage. Eventually remarrying, Kaylie has a daughter of her own. When Kaylie begins to see the same abusive patterns starting to repeat themselves with Gloria and her daughter Eryna, Kaylie must once again confront the long lasting affects of being the child of an alcoholic.
Before each chapter of her memoir, Ms. Jones begins with an anecdote from her childhood which often star her mother. They are often humorous, portraying Gloria Jones at her best and most delightful behavior. Once caught between the pages, Gloria is shown in a different light. She is unable to hold her tongue, telling Kaylie exactly what she thinks of her and disregarding Kaylie’s feelings. Unlike her brother Jamie, who let the insults roll off his shoulders, Kaylie bottles up all of the hurt and doesn’t release it until toward the end of her mother‘s life. Even though Gloria made her miserable, Kaylie’s love for her mother is reflected through the inclusion of these memories.
Although Kaylie’s triumphant recovery from alcoholism is the center of this memoir, I found myself getting lost in her childhood. Kaylie was brought up amongst famous actors and writers including Norman Mailer, Frank Sinatra, Truman Capote, and Lauren Bacall just to name a few. Kaylie’s own journey as a writer was truly inspiring and uplifting. Her experiences, both positive and negative, have shaped the writer she has become. In addition to wanting to read Kaylie’s other works, I now want to experience her father’s WWII trilogy (From Here to Eternity, The Thin Red Line, and Whistle as well as half a dozen other works of literature mentioned in the novel.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. Instead of becoming a teacher, she tried her hand at technical writing and content writing for various companies. Occasionally she dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.