• June 10, 2023


Book cover

The author, a film director, presents a brief but engaging and surprise-filled memoir of a man whose true identity was kept from him well into adulthood. The adopted son of Ray and Eleanor Moscatel, a Sephardic Jewish couple living in Beverly Hills, Moscatel was adopted after the tragic death of his parents’ natural son, Albert. Moscatel details how he had always been aware of the ambiguity of his origins (his parents at one point claimed was as a “test-tube baby”), and that he was only later in life that he found out the truth and began to heal from the psychological damage of his parents’ subterfuge. On a lighter note, Moscatel has plenty to share about living in Beverly Hills among the famous, some of whom were friends and neighbors to the Moscatel family. He recounts his family’s close friendship with actor Michael Landon and his family, as well as various members of the Gilbert family, whose oldest daughter, actress Melissa Gilbert, was an adoptee like him. He includes accounts of encounters, both minor and serious, with celebrities ranging from Frank Sinatra to Tony Roma (the latter was briefly his mother’s husband). The memoir is full of twists and turns—the surprise ending regarding Moscatel’s background also speaks to the stigma surrounding adoption that has only recently begun to abate. The author writes movingly of his parents’ own difficulties, displaying understanding and grace: “The emotional upheaval of a loss blurs a survivor’s memory. And their grievance, from denial, to bouts of anger, guilt, bargaining, and ultimately acceptance, often ends with a little piece of them dying, too.” Moscatel does not offer the reader a pat happy ending, but his story reaches a satisfying resolution.

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