Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Book Review - Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter: A Memoir
The Glass Castle meets The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in this dazzlingly honest and provocative family memoir by former child actress and current Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis.
When Melissa Francis was eight years old, she won the role of lifetime: playing Cassandra Cooper Ingalls, the little girl who was adopted with her brother (played by young Jason Bateman) by the Ingalls family on the world’s most famous primetime soap opera, Little House on the Prairie. Despite her age, she was already a veteran actress, living a charmed life, moving from one Hollywood set to the next. But behind the scenes, her success was fueled by the pride, pressure, and sometimes grinding cruelty of her stage mother, as fame and a mother’s ambition pushed her older sister deeper into the shadows.
Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter is a fascinating account of life as a child star in the 1980’s, and also a startling tale of a family under the care of a highly neurotic, dangerously competitive “tiger mother.” But perhaps most importantly, now that Melissa has two sons of her own, it’s a meditation on motherhood, and the value of pushing your children: how hard should you push a child to succeed, and at what point does your help turn into harm?
About the Author
Melissa Francis, anchor of MONEY with Melissa Francis and Markets Now on the Fox Business Network, did not get her start on television in news. At the age of eight, she played Cassandra Cooper Ingalls on the world's most famous prime-time soap opera, Little House on the Prairie, working alongside 1980s icons Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, and Jason Bateman.
In her book Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter, Melissa recounts her life as a child star in the 1980s, a life wholly controlled by a highly neurotic and dangerously competitive "tiger mother." Now the mother of two young boys herself, Melissa reflects not only on her past but on the subject of parenthood and the impact of relentlessly driving a child to succeed, an approach that sent Melissa's sister into a deadly spiral.
"What I have learned from a difficult childhood is that, no matter what has happened in the past, you can take charge of your life and be happy. Your life is your own. In fact, a tough past is actually a richness of experience to draw upon. You know what doesn't work," says Melissa.
Melissa eventually left acting, earned a degree in Economics from Harvard University, and went on to a successful career as a broadcast journalist. Today, Melissa Francis lives in New York City with her husband and two children. She anchors two daily shows on the Fox Business Network, including Money with Melissa Francis, which covers the intersection of Wall Street and Main Street. Prior to her role at FOX Business, Melissa spent nine years at CNBC, where she anchored shows such as Power Lunch, The Call, and On the Money, and made regular contributions to the Today show and Weekend Today.
My Take on the Book
My wife was a big fan of Little House on the Prairie when she was young, and actually holds all of the DVDs of the entire series now, so when she found out about this book she really wanted to read it, and that she was reading and she encouraged me to read as well. In this book you decidedly get a picture of the parent who was overly involved in the lives of her children. You get to see a parent who pushed your children to the brink, and the author was definitely one that was able to survive and flourish in the future even after some of things that her mother put her through.
The author has a definite way with words and you can tell is a reader that this was an emotional story that needed to be told by her, and she used vivid imagery and strong words to convey the emotion that surrounded the experience.
While the book does not dwell specifically on her experience on Little House on the Prairie, and is more so a reflection on the relationship with her mother and how this relationship impacted her personally as well as her experiences on the set of this show as well as other acting opportunities that she was able to take advantage of the child actor.
This story though is a story of hope, as it shows how the author rose above the experiences that she had with a mother that was, on a good day, over involved and smothering - to become a well-known journalist, wife and mother. The story will touch your heart and make you think about how you parent your own show, or how you don't want to parent.
All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.
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