30 Books in 30 Days, Vol. 2
This was great. I’m not normally a fan of celebrity memoirs, because in my experience the books are often being written just because the celebrity wants to write a book, and there’s no literary reason for the book to exist. I don’t mean that in a snobby way, but more in the way that said celebrities just don’t have anything to say, or they think they have something to say but they are often wrong. Alison Arngrim has a lot to say, and it is all interesting, well-written, and often very funny.
And I’m not even a fan of Little House on the Prairie! I vaguely remember watching it when I was a kid, but it was really something my dad liked, and I remember being annoyed when he had it on all the time. I would leave the room.
This is essentially an autobiography, but really it’s centered on how much of an impact playing the evil Nellie Oleson had on Alison’s life. She had a very strange upbringing, oftentimes traumatic (content warnings for: [sexual assault, incest, parental neglect, drug use] but playing Nellie gave her a purpose and a respite and a second family, along with life-long friends. She also credits playing Nellie with teaching her how to be a strong person who is able to withstand criticism. The things that people say to this woman because she played a villainous child! The book hilariously opens up with a woman coming up to her at a signing at a county fair, conquering her immense anger, and then walking up to Alison and saying, “I forgive you.” Like she was really the character!! It’s wild.
The behind the scenes stuff for the show was interesting, even though I didn’t know it very well. She really does a good job painting the scene, telling us the important stuff, and playing up the really good stuff, like the entire chapter she devotes to her favorite episode (and a fan-favorite as well), when Nellie apparently fakes being paralyzed and ends up being thrown into a pond (apparently being thrown into bodies of water was a theme for the character).
Her adulthood was interesting as well. Little House continues to touch her life, but as an adult she actually became a comedian, and an activist to promote legislation to protect children from sexual assault.
If this sounds interesting to you and you also like audiobooks, definitely pick up the audiobooks, because Alison reads it herself and her performance is A++.