A Paper Life Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Paper Life

Tatum O'Neal was only 10 when she won an Oscar for her performance in A Paper Moon, which co-starred her father Ryan O'Neal. A beautiful child, she seemed to have it all, living in Hollywood and being a movie star. But as this book reveals her life was from from lovely. Tatum O'Neal's mother, the actress Joanna Moore, was an insecure woman who seems to have spent most of her time on her appearance (don't miss the photos of her in a wig with false eyelashes). Both she and Ryan O'Neal were neglectful parents. After they divorced, Ryan O'Neal would have a series of famous girlfriends. According to Tatum, he would become outright abusive to her.
Click here to see the rest of this review...

In one of the most heartbreaking moments in this really rather matter-of-fact book, Ms. O'Neal reveals that she attended the 1973 Oscars alone. Neither of her parents could be bothered to come see her win her award. In the years that followed, she would keep acting. But her life was falling apart. She began to use drugs heavily.

This book really deals with just two parts of Ms. O'Neal's life - her childhood and her romance and marriage to John McEnroe. Her descriptions of life with the stressed and controlling McEnroe are as grim as the descriptions of her childhood. The details of their divorce made me shudder.
The review of this Book prepared by Ann Gaines

Tatum O'Neal's autobiography paints a stark and brutal picture of the actress' early years growing up as the daughter of Hollywood actor Ryan O'Neal. The daughter of film star Ryan O'Neal and actress Joanna Moore, Tatum struggled from an early age due to the divorce of her parents and the addiction of her mother. After the divorce Tatum and her younger brother Griffin were sent to live with their mother, who was a hopeless addict. Subjected to neglect, Tatum and Griffin were barely cared for as their mother spiraled out of control and their father was busy making films all over the globe. When their mother can no longer care for the children both children are sent to boarding school, although Ryan O'Neal gives Tatum a reprieve and takes her home to live with him in Hollywood. Although Tatum at times shares a magical relationship with her father, his chaotic and temperamental moods turn ugly. When Tatum is given the role of Addie in Paper Moon (co-starring dear old dad) Ryan can barely contain his jealousy when Tatum wins accolades and an Oscar nomination. According to Tatum her father punched her in the face when he heard of her nomination. On Oscar night when Tatum was the youngest winner in history neither of her parents attended the ceremony.

Through the years living with her father Tatum recounts incidents in which she is molested, her father sleeps with her best friend, her father sleeps with numerous women and serious drug use/abuse occurs. Tatum recounts her low self esteem as a adolescent and her growing alienation from her father. She details her father's relationship with Farrah Fawcett and the major rift that began to develop with her father during that period. Tatum writes about meeting John McEnroe and about their tempestuous relationship which yielded three children. The author paints a chilling portrayal of her own addication, the destruction of her marriage, the loss of her children and the way in which she rebuilt her life.

The review of this Book prepared by Sandra Calhoune

Chapter Analysis of A Paper Life

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Kids:    -   drugs    -   molestation--unpleasant gift from Daddy    -   Fighting with Dad Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   actor/actress/producer Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   American


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   3 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   California City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York Century:    -   1980's-Present

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   concerned    -   like laughing Graphic sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   rape/molest    -   licking    -   actual description of hetero sex If this is a kid's book:    -   Age 16-Adult Pictures/Illustrations?    -   A lot 11-15 B&W    -   A lot in color 11-15 How much dialogue in bio?    -   significantly more descript than dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   26-50% of book    -   76%-100% of book

Books with storylines, themes & endings like A Paper Life

Tatum O'Neal Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian