Review: Brooke Shields memoir
I seem to have been reading a lot of memoirs lately and Brooke Shields’s reminiscences of her relationship with her mother, Teri Shields is one I finished last week. It’s called There Was a Little Girl, The real story of my mother and me and is an honest but sometimes uncomfortable account of the complexities of this mother-daughter relationship. Brooke Shields was a household name especially in the 80s and 90s and certainly her mother had a great deal to do with that – she’d landed Brooke in advertisements even as a baby and guided her into becoming a child actor, most famous for Blue Lagoon.
As a single mother, Teri is a difficult person – not least because she is an alcoholic and burdens Brooke with this her entire childhood. Brooke even stages an intervention as a young girl with family friends to try convince her mother to get clean. The relationship is made even more complex in that their earning potential is the combination of both their efforts – Brooke’s acting and modelling and her mother’s marketing and PR. One cannot exist without the other, which does not allow for the natural and gradual separation any young adult should have from his or her parent. Without giving too much away, Brooke has to take unusual steps to secure both her financial and emotional independence.
Needless to say this is a relationship that affects her greatly, and there is definitely a sense of loss and guilt in the book, but also of anger, frustration and love, always love. However, one doesn’t have to read too much between the lines to realise that Brooke blames her mother for the lack of strategy applied to her career and one gets the impression she would have liked to be more – as both a mom herself and as an actor.
Although Brooke is a capable writer and well able to engage in intellectual pursuits (not just a pretty face), the book has a petulant quality that grated on occasion. Yet despite this, I found some truths about behind-the-scenes (e.g. for Blue Lagoon or Pretty Baby) or the unusual life Brooke has led very interesting.
And for this reason, it is worth a read.
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