Sunday, January 13, 2019

Book Review: In Pieces by Sally Field (audio)

I've always liked Sally Field. I appreciate that she both is in very good movies and TV shows, but also sometimes just takes the work she can get because it's a job. As she's always seemed very real and down-to-earth. I'd heard this was great, and as I always like an audiobook memoir read by the author, when the author is a professional entertainer (and sometimes non-entertainers, but those are much more reliable), I went for it!

It is great. She had a harrowing childhood though, and it is awkward and cringeworthy for this listener to hear her reading about her step-father's repeated molestations of her. However, that's not the majority of the book, so I was able to move on. (It does, of course, impact her entire life, but the details which made me squeamish are only in the beginning.) She had mostly not-great relationships with men, but she obviously adores her three sons. She was lucky that The Flying Nun didn't completely ruin her career. And I was shocked to hear that Gidget was only on for one season!

At one point I realized, there's only about an hour left of the audiobook, and she's only now done Norma Rae, so we're not going to get through everything. And she really sped through the highlights after that. Her life was more stable and I suppose she didn't want this to be a chronicle of her children's ups and downs. But what was really interesting, especially at the end, was her relationship with her mother. She eventually confronted her about her step-father's molesting and they worked that out. But Sally always struggled with reconciling her image of her mother with reality. Since she had her first child, she really leaned on her mother's help with her kids, her entire life (her third child is 20 years younger than her first so she had child care needs for several decades.) And when her mother was in poor health and fading, Sally thought about how reliable and helpful and loving her mother was, and how she could always count on her. But what she seems to have never truly understood is that she was only those things when Sally was an adult. When Sally was a child, she'd invited a child molester into their home, she'd drunk heavily, and ignored her children. But Sally has a lovely way of understanding that your relationship is what is IS, now, not then. And it's going to always be different and changing. And while she has trouble not idealizing her mother when she was younger, she does intellectually understand that her mother really let her down, but that's not who her mother was anymore.

I also found it refreshing to finally get a memoir where the subject doesn't have perfect memory. I have a dreadful memory for details for the most part and am always rather flummoxed by people who write about things decades past with nuance and detail, when I can barely remember last month. Sally, having been in the public eye, did have the benefit of an aunt who kept scrapbooks, and an agent who mailed publicity notices and reviews, to help jog her memories. But it was kind of nice to hear someone for once say that she was looking at a photo of a house she'd lived in, which she had no memory of at all. Partly though that might be due to some mild dissociating due to the molesting. Playing Sibyl wasn't as much of a stretch for her, unfortunately. (And hence, the title of the book.)

A really enjoyable memoir of a woman who is pretty relatable and ordinary--someone you think you might be friends with if she lived next door--and the rather unordinary life she lead.

I listened to this book via Libby, the Overdrive audiobook app from my library.

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