The oldest daughter of revered composer Leonard Bernstein offers a rare look at her father on the centenary of his birth—illuminating a man, a city, and an era that defined modern culture—in a deeply intimate memoir.
Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein is unique among classical-music memoirs for its physical intimacy, its humor and tenderness, its ambivalence toward an irrepressible family genius... Jamie Bernstein’s writing is devoted to what she directly experienced, altered, it seems, as little as possible by the passage of time. Leonard Bernstein is always 'Daddy,' not a figure in a novel, or the hero of myth, but an all too palpable man ... Jamie Bernstein finds a way—many ways, actually—of making a life out of music without being a musician ... Jamie Bernstein has had a happy fate: the existence of this well-written book, with its poignancy and its shuddery detail
[Famous Father Gir] describes a child eagerly courting her father's love but struggling for years to become a professional musician... Jamie writes that she's finally shed the weight of her father's 'burden' to achieve success on her terms. The pronouncement arrives at the end of her memoir, a shame, really, since she does spend too many pages on her famous father's career and too little on her own accomplishments.
Her memoir portrays a man whose weaponized ego fits perfectly into American celebrity culture, but it’s also a story of how his daughter survived that ego to become her own woman ... Famous Father Girl is a good book that strives to keep Leonard Bernstein before the public eye. Short on psychological insight, it is long on love and acceptance: love for a father of boundless energy and acceptance of one who sometimes crossed boundaries a father shouldn’t cross.