A Book Review of ‘I’m Supposed to Protect You From All This: A Memoir’

After being recommended this book, I made it a point to stop by my local library and pick up a copy to read. The book is called “I’m Supposed to Protect You From All This,” and it's a memoir by Nadja Spiegelman. When I first picked it up I thought there was no way I’d find time to finish it with all my midterms and other assignments, but I quickly found myself making time to read this book because of how interesting it was. The book tells the stories of mothers and daughters, their lives and how they influence each other in both known and unknown ways.  

In my experiences with them, memoirs have always seemed a bit one-sided. The story is told from one point of view and we as the audience are to take that point of view as the truth. This book was different because it poked holes in that layout. In this book, Nadja recounts moments from her own life but also includes stories from her mother and her maternal grandmother. Through this form of storytelling, we learn new stories and we meet old stories at overlapping points. These overlaps allow us to see the way memories are held differently by different people which shows us how truth is subjective based on the person recounting the story.

The interesting approach to intergenerational storytelling is what drew me in. But being able to understand the way these different women experienced and processed life and its ups and downs is what made me stay. This book makes you curious about the experiences people in your own life have had. For me it struck me with a feeling of sonder, just thinking about how there are lives being lived by people that I will never fully understand. It was fascinating to read as Nadja pieced these life stories together, using them to further each other and helping her to come to terms with an understanding of how some of the women in her life became who she knew them to be.

Another aspect of the book that really intrigued me was looking at patterns in the ways that Nadja, her mother, and her grandmother viewed society’s norms. Some things the older women saw to be normal are now considered wrong. The way Nadja explains her point of view while educating and learning from the older generations was very interesting to see play out through the story. I think it gave me a better understanding of how difficult it can be for older generations to come to terms and accept the new standards of newer generations. This is not to make excuses of course, but I definitely have ways to pose questions and engage in conversation about these things that might help in cultivating my own stories. 

I know I didn’t give much context on what all goes on in this book, but I genuinely think it’s one you ought to pick up and give a read. The book tells the stories of mothers and daughters, separate, overlapping and developing into the way these women process everything they experience. It's a powerful and thought-provoking book, to which I give it a 9/10.