A Paper Life

Version: Unabridged
Author: Tatum O'Neal
Narrator: Tatum O'Neal
Genres: Biography & Memoir, Arts & Entertainment
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published In: October 2004
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 6 hours
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At age ten, 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.

Reviews (12)

Begins well, goes downhill

Written by Cynara on September 7th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 3/5

As is so often the case with celebrity biographies, this book ends up telling you a lot more than you care to know about the individual and sounds increasingly like an apologia rather than a retrospective. Nevetheless, Tatum O'Neal must be admired for her pluckiness and sheer ability to survive a shockingly neglectful and dangerous childhood. I wish her well, but the book drags on in its final half.


Written by Anonymous on January 11th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Interesting bio. I'm glad that I haven't ever met her family. Her father comes off as the worst human being possible. Farrah was controlled by him. Her brothers were abused by him. She married the meanest guy she could find. What a mess. Interesting, but sorta depressing.


Written by Anonymous on November 30th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Although I've always been intrigued by the stars stories this one was way too much "poor me". Come on SHE'S A ADDICT why should I feel sorry for her not being able to see her kids and listening to how she really loves her kids but is doing drugs in the next room for them to find. Give me a break. I've never heard a grown woman read so horribly in my adult life, she sounds like she's 8 years old pausing and putting emphasis when it shouldn't be there. I would not recommend this book!

Absolutely Unimpressed!

Written by Laura from Milwaukee, WI on September 16th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I found this book to be boring and tedious to listen to. It may have been better read by someone else, but Tatum's reading of the story was horrendous! Throughout the book I kept thinking, "buck up and quit complaining". I know plenty of people who have had a much harder history and they don't feel the need to cry and complain and devalue their parents. Could her father have been a better parent? Of course! But did she need to spill her story while he was still living? Disrespectful.

a paper life

Written by Anonymous on October 22nd, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I thought this was a very good book. I think we sometimes forget the Stars have troubles too.


Written by Anonymous from Dallas, TX on August 23rd, 2006

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Unbelievable is all I can say after reading this book. I don't know if this was the complete truth of Tatum's life, but it sure seemed that she embellished A LOT!! At times, it was really hard to hold my attention and it seems that Tatum was confused when it came to putting emphasis on certain words. I would NOT recommend this book to anyone, unless you have some hours to kill!

Unbelievable – really!

Written by Anonymous on July 18th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Tatum’s reading of her autobiography was atrocious! I found it almost painful to listen to her voice and her poorly timed inflections. It sounded as if she were reading her life story for the first time. I found the story full of self pity and wholly unbelievable. She is the victim in her life from start to finish. I laughed out loud at inappropriate times because the tale she told was so preposterous. I do not recommend this audio book unless you’re looking to waste your time or are in the mood for a good laugh.

Paper Life

Written by Janine Kearns on June 7th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I really enjoyed hearing Tatum's story. I think she has overcome many struggles and I wish her deep happiness and peace.

Paper Life

Written by Toni on November 26th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 3/5

I enjoyed hearing Tatum tell about her life. She reads adequately, but I often felt like she had lost her place and was not quite sure where to place the correct emphasis in a sentence. But her gravelly voice becomes addictive. You can't help but like her after listening to this with the exception of the heroin needles around her children but she is a lives a pitiful life virtually parentless and survives. And Ryan O'Neil, oh my god! What a horrible excuse for a father, what a horrible excuse for a human being. Tatum's indefatigueable spirit shines through after what most of us would consider a hopeless childhood. Her love of her children and her love for her husband made me wonder how she had such a resilient spirit. She left me feeling that she was a very human likeable child-person. Her intelligence is quite obvious especially with her limited education.

Paper Life

Written by Wendy Cassels on March 6th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 4/5

It is amazing to me the woman she has become today. It is proof there can be good endings to tragic lives. This is a must read. I was captivated in the first 5 minutes.

Author Details

Author Details

O'Neal, Tatum

The youngest actress ever to win an Academy Award(R), Tatum O'Neal has been a public figure for the last three decades. An actress, author, and the mother of three children, she makes her home in Los Angeles, California.