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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book Review: Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter

Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter By Melissa Francis 

Book Description: A dazzling honest and provocative family memoir by former child actress and current Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis -- both a startling personal story and a cautionary tale for both parents in competitive times.

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 prime-time 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.

While Melissa thrived under pressure, her older sister -- who had tried her hand at acting and shrank from the limelight -- was often ignored by their mother in a shadow of neglect and disappointment. Tiffany could do nothing to please her mother, but it wasn't until after Melissa had graduated from Harvard University with a degree in economics, found love, and married that Tiffany's personal problems culminated in a life-and-death crisis. When Melissa realized the role of her mother continued to play in her sister's downward spiral, she resolved to end the manic, abusive cycle once and for all.

Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter is a fascinating account of life as a child star in the 1980's, and also a disquieting 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. She asks the questions so many of us ask ourselves: how hard should you push a child to succeed, and at what point does your help turn into harm?

About the Author: Melissa Francis, author of Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter, grew up in southern California. As a broadcast journalist, she has anchored CNBC's Power Lunch, The Call, and On The Money, and served as a regular contributor to the Today show and Weekend Today. Currently she hosts two daily business shows on the Fox Business Network, including Money with Melissa Francis. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two sons.

Here's What I Think: What an engaging story. I have read my fair share of memoirs and they usually have one thing in common - there is always something held back and get to the last page and just think "Wait - what about....". I am actually a little young for Little House on the Prairie, but I have heard lots about the cast and their environment. My one criticism of this book is that it assumes you "know" a little more of the background then it shares. Other than that, it is not just a story about an overbearing "tiger mother" but also about the difficult parenting choices that had to be made in this life. It's worth a read, for sure!!

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for review purposes. These are my real and honest opinions.

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