"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?
The mother of a child actor has to be a rough job. Heck, being a child actor has to be hell. Melissa Francis played Carrie on the well known television drama series, Little House on the Prairie. I grew up watching the show and was sad to see it end. But the behind the scenes look at Little House is few and far between in this poignant memoir.
That's not to say that there isn't some nice, relevent information detailed for fans of the show. But Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter is about Melissa when she was growing up. Her mom scared the crap out of me with how hard she worked her girls and when they failed, she was not a nice person. She wanted them to be perfect, to be famous. It was her life - making sure they were auditioning at all the right places, knew just what to say and were well rehearsed. It didn't matter what Melissa and her sister Tiffany wanted. It was what mom wanted - who thought she was doing what they wanted.
Both of the girls went in different directions with their careers. Tiffany battled addiction and the celebrity status just isn't for her. Melissa is an anchor on Fox and is a strong willed individual who isn't afraid to work and go after what she wants. It's a very intriguing read - an intimate look, if you will. If you enjoy memoirs, pick this one up!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.