Take Ten: Growing Up in Famous Families

I can remember times when I was convinced I was growing up in the wrong family. My real parents were probably royalty somewhere, and I was surely missing out on being a true princess. I have a feeling I wasn’t the only one who harbored such fantasies. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to be a part of a well-known family, pick up one of these memoirs. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener (even if you don’t have to mow it).


Astor Orphan: A Memoir – Alexandra Aldrich

  • A descendant of a great American plutocratic dynasty who grew up in the servants’ quarters of Rokeby, the Astor family’s beautiful mansion, reveals how she was able to impose order on her anarchic world.

Composed – Roseanne Cash

  • Cash writes compellingly about her upbringing in Southern California as the child of country legend Johnny Cash, and of her relationships with her mother and her famous stepmother, June Carter Cash.

Dead End Gene Pool: A Memoir – Wendy Burden

  • A descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt presents an insider’s tour of America’s old-money wealthy class, profiling the members of her dysfunctional family while identifying toxic factors and behaviors that have influenced their downfall.

Dumbfounded: A Memoir – Matt Rothschild

  • A candid, poignant, often humorous memoir describes growing up as a chubby Jewish kid under the care of his grandmother after his mother leaves him for Italy and her fourth husband, his troubled childhood, his sexual confusion, and his struggle to fit into the genteel world of Upper East Side Manhattan and his eccentric and dysfunctional family.

High on Arrival – MacKenzie Phillips

  • The author, best known for her role on the sitcom “One Day at a Time,” reveals her story of growing up in a legendary rock-and-roll family, the demons she has battled, and the redemption and peace she ultimately found.

Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son’s Memoir – David Rieff

  • A tribute to writer Susan Sontag and her final battle with cancer, written by her son, relates the human experience of being close to someone who is gravely ill and evaluates the current state of cancer research and treatment.

Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption – Christopher Lawford

  • The son of actor Peter Lawford and JFK’s sister, Patricia, describes his privileged childhood alongside the offspring of other famous celebrities and politicians and his struggles with alcohol and heroin addiction.

This Family of Mine: What It Was Like Growing up Gotti – Victoria Gotti

  • Victoria Gotti, the daughter of reputed Gambino mob boss John Gotti, presents a rousing memoir of life in the household of New York’s most infamous Mafia Don. Chronicling her childhood, her father’s unsavory occupation, and her subsequent fortunes in adulthood

Under a Wing: A Memoir – Reeve Lindbergh

  • The children’s book author describes her famous father’s harsh discipline, her mother’s love, and the lasting effects of her brother’s death.

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

  • A memoir based on the author’s one-woman show describes growing up with celebrity parents, her early success in “Star Wars,” battle with addiction and mental illness, turbulent romances, role as a single mother, and struggle for recovery and healing.


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