Friday, September 27, 2013

My Mother Was Nuts

Title:  My Mother Was Nuts
Author:  Penny Marshall
Publication Information:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 2012. 326 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book came as a hardcover edition.

Favorite Quote:  "Somewhere along the way, we all want to - or at least try to - figure out why we're here and what all the [****] it means, you know? I was ... confirming a few things for myself, starting with the fact that I didn't have to figure out what to do with my life. I was doing it."

My Mother Was Nuts is Penny Marshall's memoir, starting in her childhood and going through almost the present. She starts with the fact that she was an unwanted child. She talks about her childhood in the Bronx, her pregnancy and her daughter, her marriages, her abortion, her bout with cancer, and, of course, the trajectory of her amazing career.

I grew up watching Penny Marshall - from cameos on The Odd Couple, Mary Tyler Moore, and Happy Days to Laverne and Shirley. Her movie Big is one of my all time favorite movies.

I came to this memoir expecting to find the same humor and joy as I find in her work. I did not. I am not sure whether that is because, of course, life and the movies is not TV, or because I watched those shows with the eyes of a child and now as an adult, it does not hold the same appeal.

For me, this book has a sad undertone running throughout. It starts at the beginning with her mother stating, "You were a miscarriage, but you were stubborn and held on." She refers to her grandmother as "our building's witch lady." About her divorce from Rob Reiner, she say "Maybe, though, in the end, I did make him sick."

In the dedication, the end of the book, the acknowledgements, Penny Marshall credits the people in her life as what she treasures the most and the the fact that "I've been given my five minutes ... and then some." This tribute seems somewhat inconsistent with the sad, sometimes negative thoughts through out the book. That's family reality, I suppose - the good and the bad and that you can't take one without the other. I, however, cannot shake the sadness of some of what she describes and how she describes it.

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