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Publisher's Summary

At age 10, Tatum O'Neal became the youngest Oscar winner in history for her performance in the film classic Paper Moon. As the sidekick to her father, Ryan O'Neal, she became a fixture at the most glamorous Hollywood parties and counted celebrities among her childhood friends.

But behind the glittering facade of Tatum's life lay heartbreak: abandonment, abuse, and neglect. Her alcoholic mother drifted in and out of her life. Her father grew increasingly punishing and distant, especially after moving in with his longtime love, Farrah Fawcett. By her late teens, Tatum had begun a perilous slide into self-destruction.

Then Tatum met the man who would become her husband: the explosive tennis great John McEnroe. They had three children in quick succession, followed by one of the messiest high-profile divorces on record. With the collapse of her marriage and no real family to turn to, Tatum succumbed to the demons of her past that would nearly kill her. Now she has emerged clean and sober, rediscovering herself as an actress, mother, and wonderfully vibrant woman in what she considers the prime of her life.

©2004 Tatum O'Neal (P)2004 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"In this honest, disturbing memoir, O'Neal...reveals the behind-the-scenes story of her lonely, chaotic life." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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POORLY WRITTEN INDISTINGUISHABLE BOOK

A lifelong fan of Tatum O’Neal I looked forward to this book. I looked for this book. Tatum as reader is understandable but unnecessary and lack luster which she reads it ruins it. I think. I could never discern whether the book was dreadful because of the writing, the reading, or Tatum’s life was insanely wealthy but dysfunctional. Welcome to America. Therefore, over-privileged shrugging on top with-poor-little-rich-girl underneath with the latter getting old very quick and often.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Deb
  • South San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 01-18-11

started out strong, but ended weakly

a little over half way through it turned into a typical "everyone is wrong" and "poor me." although i stayed with it, i found my interest waning and found myself yelling at specific comments made by Tatum. i am looking forward to reading McEnroe's book now to find out his side of the story.

the most interesting part of the book revolves around Paper Moon, and how she got there.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent Story of Perseverance

I really enjoyed this book. It's a quick listen but captures your attention for the entirety. I vaguely knew the history of Tatum and her father. After listening, I have much admiration for her ability to forgiver her father and her self for the past.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Turning lemons into lemonade

It’s always best to hear a story straight from the person who lived it. Miss O’Neal’s story is remarkable. She is probably the strongest person I have ever heard of. To go through what she did and to still be alive is amazing. Not once did she blame anyone for her struggles with her demons.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very good book.

Interesting and honest look into the life of Tatum. Her struggles and pain are hard to listen to at times. Having so much in the way of fame, but really having so little

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The struggle for a good life in a bad environment

Tatum articulately expresses the difficulties of growing up in a family where appearances are all that matter, requiring denial, lies, blame-shifting, etc., much better than I am able to. I respect her courage to speak up (even though doing so is the ultimate 'sin'), her fight to protect innocence, and beyond that to forgive. What genuine love is there that is not founded on truth and dignity? None, and she instinctively knows this. I appreciate Tatum for the inner qualities she has nurtured, and the difference she has been trying to make in her world. This is the essence of the battle that is life. May God bless her in all the best ways.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great book!

Tatum O'Neil's story is full of life changing events which makes it an amazing book about what it's like growing up in that environment.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Worth it

listened to 80% of it in just one sitting, very compelling book, great bio and even greater reflection of the consequences of having children.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very easy to listen to

If you could sum up A Paper Life in three words, what would they be?

A Paper Life is a fascinating story about Tatum's traumatic life. Tatum's stories are told from both memory and diary entries that paint a horrible picture of her parents and her ex-husband, John McEnroe. Since Tatum is a scorpio, I do sometimes wonder how much of her recollections are her creating drama where there is none like the scorpios I know are likely to do.

What three words best describe Tatum O'Neal’s voice?

I do love Tatum's whisky voice and while sometimes it doesn't sound like a smooth read, it didn't detract from my enjoyment.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Revealing, in many ways.

Would you try another book from Tatum O'Neal and/or Tatum O'Neal?

Yes, I would. I was attracted to her honesty, or at least what I perceive to be her honesty, her willingness to be real. I did not find her tone blaming, just truthful.

What did you like best about this story?

She paints a very clear picture of the genetics of addiction.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Her narration was very strange, as other readers have commented, but I got used to it. This in itself was revealing, I thought. It reveals the fact that these are not all Tatum's words; the book was cowritten. But it also reveals that Ms. O'Neal is not out to score points. I heard the little girl in her voice and it was earnest and endearing. I couldn't imagine anyone else narrating this book.

What else would you have wanted to know about Tatum O'Neal’s life?

What happened next? But I suppose I have to read the next book!