Who Do You Think You Are?

A Memoir

Who Do You Think You Are?

After her mother's death, Alyse Myers covets only one thing: a wooden box that sits in the back of a closet. Its contents have been kept from her for her entire life. When she was thirteen years old her mother promised she could have the box, "when I'm dead. In fact, it'll be my present to you."

Growing up in Queens in the 1960s and '70s, Alyse always yearned for more in life, while her mother settled for an unhappy marriage, an unsatisfying job, and ultimately a joyless existence. Her father drifts in and out of their home. There are harrowing fights, abject cruelty, and endless uncertainty. Throughout her childhood Alyse adamantly rejects everything about her mother's lifestyle, leaving her mother to ask "Who do you think you are?"

A personal portrait of a mother and daughter, Who Do You Think You Are? explores the profound and poignant revelations that so often can come to light only after a parent has died. Balancing childhood memories with adult observations, Alyse Myers creates a riveting and deeply moving narrative.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416543060 | 
  • April 2009
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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions
1. "That box would give me the answers to my questions: Who were my parents really -- and why did my mother end up with so very little in her life" (page 7). What answers, if any, did the contents of the box give the author? What did you think was going to be hidden away in that box? Do you think the contents help explain the author's relationship with her mother? Why or why not?
2. What is the significance of the book's title, Who Do You Think You Are? How does the author answer this question? If asked, how do you think her mother would respond to this question?
3. "Here's how you'll get her back, he told me. I looked at him, not understanding how that diary would help me. Write it down, he said" (page 39). Do you think keeping a journal helped the author work through her anger or just allowed her to keep track of her mother's faults? What purpose do you think journal writing has in our culture?
4. Why do you think the author's parents fought so much? Do you think Alyse is a fair narrator when it comes to describing her parent's relationship or the relationship she has with her mother? Why or why not?
5. At her father's funeral, her mother gave Alyse her father's favorite "Chai" necklace. Considering the origin of the necklace, what kind of gesture was this? How did this gesture make you feel about Alyse's mother? What does it mean to Alyse?
6. Why do you think no one offered to drive Alyse's family home after see more

About the Author

Alyse Myers
Photo Credit:

Alyse Myers

Alyse Myers lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.  This is her first book.