This book has been on my to-read list for a LONG time now. Back in 2009, my friend Sam interviewed Alison for his website, Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict. I am one of the people who edit interviews for him, so I jumped at the chance to edit an interview with THE Nellie Olson!
I finally picked it up last week, and WOW: this is one of those books that you just don’t want to put down. As I mentioned before, I’m a big fan of autobiographies and memoirs, but this is one of the best that I’ve read. It’s unflinchingly honest, and sometimes startling blunt, but always keeps a sense of humour. I loved the stories about her childhood experiences with Liberace (whom her father managed.) Of course there are plenty of stories from the set of Little House on the Prairie, and some of the little details are fascinating: such as the fact that all of the creeks and ponds on the set had to be created (because they were shooting, you know, in the California desert!) and sound absolutely disgusting! It’s amazing no one ever got cholera.
But this is far from just a Hollywood tell-all. Alison’s childhood was anything but Walnut Grove-esque, and the details of the abuse she suffered at the hands of a family member are horrifying. Her later years also deal with her advocacy work for both AIDS, and child abuse survivors (and changing the laws that kept many abusers from receiving anywhere near sufficient punishment.)
I am extremely impressed with Alison Arngrim as a person. Her most-known character was, of course, the ultimate bitch, but she fully admits that she used the opportunity to play a character like that as a kind of therapy to deal with her own anger. The fact that today, she seems to be so happy and fulfilled should be inspiring for anyone who has survived abuse.
I would recommend this book to anyone.
5/5 stars on Goodreads.