The Woman Who Wasn’t There: The True Story of an Incredible Deception by Robin Gaby Fishers and Angelo J. Guglielmo, Jr.
Used to be, my inner circle knew that the thing that most drove me nuts was rudeness. But, as we humans will do, I’ve evolved and developed a new pet peeve.
I’m one of them zero tolerance people when it comes to lying.
So. This book Pushed.My.Buttons.
Every last one of them.
Tania Head claimed to have been in one of the
September 11, and she had a gloriously inspirational story of recovering from
the death of her husband, who was in the other tower. And apparently she had
charisma, because all kinds of people got swept up in her story and didn’t
think to ask questions about the inconsistencies. World Trade
So the first part of the book—nearly all of the book, actually—is the story of Tania’s deception, but it’s written almost as though we don’t know it’s all a lie. (Yeah, even more of it is a lie than I had anticipated.) It’s only at the very end that the loose ends begin to unravel, and she’s exposed as a fraud. (Guys, I’m not giving anything away here: the title of the book is The Woman Who Wasn’t There.)
And along the way, yes, she was able to organize the survivors and advocate for their rights, but she also was emotionally abusive to many of them. And… (this is where I get all clenched up with anger) she also raised doubts about the validity of some of the other survivors’ stories. The nerve!
So, yeah. This book has the capacity to raise one’s blood pressure. It’s also quite a pageturner, because you just can’t wait for her lies to be exposed.
At the end of the book, though, I was left feeling like some things were missing. I wanted some other examples of humongous lies that were public, and I wanted an analysis of why people tell these horrible whopping lies. I wanted some explanation. Instead, we’re left with this feeling that this was one sick person, but we have no understanding, really, of what drives this sort of behavior. Yes, her family experienced some trauma, but lots of people’s families go through difficult times without one of them becoming a liar of epic proportions.
That having been said, this last part fueled much of our book club’s discussion of the book, and it was lively.
Here’s The Daily Beast’s take on it, which includes an excerpt from the book.