Growing up, Anderson Cooper really didn’t know much about his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, and, oh boy, does she have a lot to tell. Wow, such an amazing life she led. At the age of 91, Gloria begins a year-long, back-and-forth conversation via email with her son, Anderson Cooper, a conversation unlike any they’ve had before. We find out so much about both of them and, in turn, ourselves.
Gloria candidly describes her fascinating, yet difficult, life. Although born with a silver spoon in her mouth, her childhood was anything but enviable. She lost her father when she was an infant, a loss that left her always desperately trying to fill that void. Even more difficult was the indifference her own mother seemed to have toward her. But what’s most captivating about this book is the honesty with which she and Anderson share their own stories–her heart-wrenching feelings of loss and alienation and Anderson’s difficulty in revealing his sexual identity and coping with the premature deaths of both his beloved brother and father. The book reveals their willingness to share their true feelings. In one exchange, Anderson says to his mom, “Your restlessness was always frustrating to me, but I now see just how impatient I am as well. Shortly after I told you that your impulsiveness is exhausting, a friend of mine said to me, ‘It’s exhausting being around YOU.’ I have to admit that he is right.”
What Gloria has to offer her son is the wisdom that comes with experience. And so she tells him, “With aging you gain perspective. Looking back on it now, (speaking of her failed marriages) she says, the kind of happiness I was looking for didn’t exist. It was what Sontag wrote of, ‘The inescapable longing for something you never had.’ When you feel you have so much to give and so much passion inside you, there is only one thing to do, and that’s go out and find it, fulfill it.”
Lots to glean and learn from this remarkable mother-son story.