ABOUT THE BOOK:(from Simon&Schuster)
A fascinating, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting tale of self-discovery from the beloved actress who earned a permanent place in the hearts of millions when she was just a child.
To fans of the hugely successful television series Little House on the Prairie, Melissa Gilbert grew up in a fantasy world with a larger-than-life father, friends and family she could count on, and plenty of animals to play with. Children across the country dreamed of the Ingalls' idyllic life -- and so did Melissa.
She was a natural on camera, but behind the scenes, life was more complicated. Adopted as a baby into a legendary show business family, Melissa wrestled with questions about her identity and struggled to maintain an image of perfection her mother created and enforced. Only after years of substance abuse, dysfunctional relationships, and made-for-television movies did she begin to figure out who she really was.
With candor and humor, the cherished actress traces her complicated journey from buck-toothed Laura "Half-pint" Ingalls to Hollywood starlet, wife, and mother. She partied with the Brat Pack, dated heartthrobs like Rob Lowe and bad boys like Billy Idol, and began a self-destructive pattern of addiction and codependence. Left in debt after her first marriage, and struggling to create some sense of stability, she eventually realized that her career on television had earned her popularity, admiration, and love from everyone but herself.
Through hard work, tenacity, sobriety, and the blessings of a solid marriage, Melissa has accepted her many different identities and learned to laugh, cry, and forgive in new ways. Women everywhere may have idolized her charming life on Little House on the Prairie, but Melissa's own unexpectedly honest, imperfect, and down-to-earth story is an inspiration.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MELISSA GILBERT
Melissa Gilbert starred as Laura Ingalls on the hit television show Little House on the Prairie. Post-Little House, Gilbert appeared in numerous Lifetime movies and recently served as president of the Screen Actors Guild for two terms. She currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Children's Hospice and and Palliative Care Coalition, where she works directly with chronically and terminally ill children to provide them with care and comfort. She resides in
Melissa Gilbert admits that "To me, at forty-four years old, my book was a search for truth and identity." And I would have to say that after reading PRAIRIE TALE, I believe she accomplished that from what I could tell. There was certainly a lot of truth and I surely know Melissa Gilbert's identity much better than before I read her memoir. I found the book to be an easy and enjoyable read. As someone who not only watched Little House on the Prairie but read all of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, as well as taught them in school to my students, I was excited to read about Melissa Gilbert, even though she has outgrown those pigtails.
I found that she wrote with humor, sincerity and from her heart with honesty. You might almost think she was "name dropping" as so many familiar celebrities are mentioned but one must remember she is telling about her 44 years living in the spotlight of Hollywood from a very young child! I found out so many things I never knew about her like that she was adopted. I also had forgotten that I somewhat knew she was a wild member of the "Brat Pack" that included Emilio Estevez and Tom Cruise as well as Rob Lowe who she had a very fiery and not so nice romance with, but wasn't aware of the drug use and a miscarriage with Lowe.
Gilbert touches on times during her Little House years but that is not the bulk of the book as one might think. I was not surprised at her relating how much she cared for and admired Michael Landon but didn't know she REALLY didn't get along with her onstage sister Melissa Sue Anderson and makes no attempt at covering her feelings about it. I think that is part of the appeal of the memoir is that Melissa tells it like it is but doesn't try to sensationalize it.
Her recounting the nightmare first marriage and divorce with Bo Brinkman after finding him in their home having sex with a prostitute was hard enough to read let alone live though. Melissa's subsequent romance and marriage to her now husband, Bruce Boxleitner, seemed to make up for it. Her tender moments with Michael Landon, dating his son for a while, her frank account of Shannen Doherty having an affair with her first husband, and Melissa's own addiction and even a supposed reaction to Johnny Depp asking to feel her breasts during a time she was lactating and her response for him to go ahead if he wanted to...all these things seem to be about another person than the one most of us know from the sweet Little House show and yet are told with such honesty and bravado, that you believe it all.
I think that Melissa told about her life in a way that many people can relate to. Sure, we mere mortals don't help Marlon Brando in his time of need like she did, but if you take away the "names", Melissa Gilbert lived a life that was real and she is still doing a great job at it. Her dealing with her faults, and while being aware of her strengths has obviously made her the strong and happy woman she is today. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't imagine anyone not reading it straight through as it was that interesting and well written. Kudos to "half-pint"...and best wishes to a lady I'd like to see stay active in the Hollywood community for a long time..she paid her dues and deserves whatever success and happiness comes her way.
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