Beautiful Stranger: A Memoir of an Obsession with Perfection

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Gotham Books, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 292 pages
5 Reviews
Hope Donahue seemed to have it all: beauty, wealth, social status. She was an only child who grew up with the best private schools, debutante balls, and a home in Hancock Park, Los Angeles’s old-money enclave. But beneath the family’s fašade of “keeping up appearances,” Hope hid a host of ugly truths, including a mother increasingly jealous of her daughter’s good looks, an uncle’s sexual advances, and a father who cowed to the demands of his wife and coolly reserved parents. Hope became addicted to a quest for physical perfection in place of her self-esteem—and by the age of twenty-seven she had undergone seven plastic surgeries. In riveting, unflinching prose, Hope recounts her downward spiral that alienated her family and friends, and led her to theft, bankruptcy, and a sadistic relationship before she began her recovery.

A powerful response to a culture obsessed with extreme makeovers and risky procedures that promise flawlessness, Beautiful Strangeris a timely, cautionary tale. Her story will inspire the countless women and men like her who struggle every day in a culture that feeds us dangerous images of unattainable perfection.

Beautiful Strangeris a dark, scary, and important story of how broad social trends shape the suffering of individuals—how, in the author’s case, the beauty addiction of a whole culture is mapped onto a dysfunctional family and an obsessive compulsive disorder. Donahue perfectly captures the predatory style of a certain kind of surgeon—at once seductively flattering and solicitous and yet always on the prowl for access into the faces and bodiess of the vulnerable.” —Virginia L. Blum author of Flesh Wounds

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - leila_summers - LibraryThing

memoir [edit] This book is not easy to review, nor was it easy to read. That's not to say it's not well written or interesting, it definitely is! The book presents some shocking realities regarding ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Angelic55blonde - LibraryThing

This is a memoir by a woman who by all accounts, had everything. She came from a wealthy family, never needed anything, although her parents were definitely far from normal and her mom could have ... Read full review


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About the author (2004)

Hope Donahue grew up in Los Angeles, California, and holds a master┬'s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. She was a finalist in Glimmer Train┬'s short story competition, and her short fiction has also appeared in Other Voices.

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