My First Book Review for 2012: The End of Normal: A Wife’s Anguish, A Widow’s New Life by Stephanie Madoff Mack

Shoulder Surgery Update:
I went to my doctor for a pre-op appointment today.  I was given a cold water therapy unit that is supposed to run ice cold water through this pack that I will need to use for 2 weeks.  I was also given a sling that is not traditional by any means.  I don’t look forward to wearing it for 24/7 and it somehow makes me feel claustrophobic.  However, I am ready to move forward and can’t wait to get this whole surgery past me.  I can’t sleep from the shoulder pain and am ready to get back to my “normal” life without having to deal with constant shoulder pain and be limited with my daily activities.


An explosive, heartbreaking memoir from the widow of Mark Madoff and daughter-in-law of Bernard Madoff, the first genuine inside story from a family member who has lived through- and survived-both the public crisis and her own deeply personal tragedy.

When the news of Bernard Madoff ‘s Ponzi scheme broke, Americans were shocked and outraged, perhaps none more so than the unsuspecting members of his own family. After learning that their father’s legendarily successful wealth management company was “all just one big lie,” Mark and Andrew Madoff turned their father in and cut off all communication with both parents. Mark and his wife, Stephanie, strove to make a fresh start for the sake of their two young children, but Mark could not overcome his sense of betrayal and shame-he and other family members were sued for $200 million in October of 2009. He hung himself on the two-year anniversary of his father’s arrest. Left to raise her children as a single mother, Stephanie wrote this memoir to give them a sense of who their father really was, defend his innocence, and put her personal statement on record once and for all. In this candid insider account, she talks about her idyllic wedding to Mark on Nantucket, what it was really like to be a part of the Madoff family, the build-up to Bernard’s confession, and the media frenzy that followed. It is about the loss of the fairytale life she knew, adjusting to life with a man she hardly recognized anymore, and the tragic and final loss of her husband.

My Review:

I am probably the only person in the world who did not know the details regarding the Madoff ponzi scheme before reading this book.  Because of this, reading Stephanie’s book came from a place of getting to know her and how she coped with the loss of her husband.  As a family therapist, I have worked with families who have been affected by suicide.  So, this was really my interest and intrigue in reading this book.  What I got, was so much more.

Stephanie Madoff Mack doesn’t hold back her thoughts, emotions, and shares private moments in her family and the Madoff family.  I read online that Stephanie was often asked by interviewers why she chose to write a book 6 months after the death of her husband….almost as if it wasn’t appropriate because not enough time had passed.  In my opinion, Stephanie choosing to write this book during that time was actually quite cathartic for her, helped her share her most intimate thoughts without holding back, and gave her a platform to show to the world who her husband really was.  In doing this, she was also able to reveal the inner struggles Mark ( her husband) experienced as a result of his father’s crime and the devastation it caused to her, Mark, and his children.

No longer the protector, the buffer, the one Stephanie could turn to who also shared in her grief and anger over Bernie Madoff’s crime, she is left alone to pick up the pieces and continue the fight for justice as she works to clear Mark’s name against any wrongdoing the media tried pinning on him and his brother, Andrew.  As Stephanie Madoff Mack shares her story, she unknowingly gives a voice to those left behind from suicide. She shares the pain she experienced, where she was when “it” happened, and the struggles and challenges she experienced with the Madoff family.  Stephanie is very raw and open as she describes the anguish, anger, betrayal, and loneliness of being a widow and mother to two small children.

I loved that she consulted with a therapist during the aftermath of the suicide and how she helped her children cope with their Daddy dying and what they do as a family to talk with him and share their joys with him in the sky.  At the time of Mark’s suicide, Stephanie was in graduate school studying to be a Child Life Specialist.  I found it rather interesting that she helped families of children with cancer cope, and unknowingly had the tools needed to help her own children cope with such a devastating tragedy.

I was amazed and saddened by the way Mark and his wife, Stephanie were treated simply because they were Madoff’s and the stigma that followed them to the point of causing Mark and Stephanie to agree that she and the children should change their last name.  For those who want to vilify this family, this is not the story for you.  For those who want to catch a glimpse into the Madoff’s history from a woman married into the family, this may intrigue you.  However, if you are wanting to read the true story of one woman who has dealt with a huge scandal, the death of her husband, the betrayal and humiliation of in-laws, then this story will shake you to your core.  In preserving her husband’s legacy, she ultimately finds her voice, learns to find a new normal, and shows that despite losing everything, you don’t have to lose yourself.

I loved this book and appreciated Stephanie’s candor.  Stephanie includes emails, letters, and intimate photos of her and Mark, as well as other family members.  My heart goes out to her and her children and I admire her strength and courage.

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