125 of 130 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter: A Memoir (Hardcover)
The child pictured on the book'ss cover looked familiar in the sense that I had seen her somewhere before, but just couldn't figure out where. After thumbing through this book, it became amply clear that this was the kid who was Cassandra Ingalls on Little House On The Prairie. I guess that was the hook for me. I plunked down some money and read this while I intermittently heard sound bytes on election night.
I was expecting a Mommie Dearest meets Gypsy sort of book, however what I got was something decidedly more disturbing which begged the question as to whether the child or the mother was the performer. Melissa Francis need not worry about being accused of exaggeration. Her mother was the stage mama horror that often is portrayed in the media, but Melissa manages to tell her story truthfully without embellishments and avoids any attempt to sensationalize the difficult situation that she, her father, and sister found themselves as her mother's outrageous behavior escalated.
In Melissa's case and that of her older sister, her mother is beyond pushy. She plays psychological games with her daughters to wear down their confidence and security. For Melissa's mother it is all artifice and status symbols such as the BMW that Melissa gets for her birthday. It is the mother who is concerned about money and image and appearances. While the mother wears down both of the kids, Melissa is essentially a survivor with the goal of escaping her mother's grasp. The sister is less lucky as she continues to recede into her cocoon without much in the way of survival skills. In the end, the mother is shown as a manipulator, thief, and fraud who is without conscience or soul.
As much as this book looks at a family tragedy and the rapid spiral, it also looks at balanced parenting and knowing when to encourage and when to back off and all the parts in between as you raise children. Other issues come into play such as the money young performers earn and the pressures placed on kids in show business.
Aisde from being well-written, the author chooses her words for maximum effect and manages to tell an interesting yet disturbing story about an unbalanced and out of control woman and the damage left in her wake.