Shields reflects on the protective—and stifling—relationship between her and her mother.
Different generations of people know the actress from different phases of her lengthy TV and film career. She began as a model at 11 months old and would go on to star in popular movies such as Endless Love and The Blue Lagoon. She continued in TV with Suddenly Susan and has spent years as a strong advocate for treatment of postpartum depression. In some ways, she is an aberration: Many child stars shine brightly for a short time and then either retreat to a private adulthood or end up in some poorly considered variation of a Miley Cyrus–type lifestyle. Shields’ more dignified path through life is in no small part thanks to her mother, Teri, and following her death in 2012, Shields was horrified to find the obituary rife with misrepresentations. This book is her effort to set the story straight. As Shields notes in the introduction, it’s not an effort “to idealize her or condemn her,” and the narrative walks a line between the two, detailing the efforts her mother made—mostly successful—to walk her own fine line between being her daughter’s promoter and being her mother. As the author’s social sphere expanded, she and her mother were like two different planets, pulling in other actors and actresses, high-society couples and directors. At times, their intense gravity worked against each other, but Shields continued her ascent. Teri found herself in the grip of a battle with alcohol, and as the book shows, her addiction became a powerful, destructive third force.
Shields writes with considerable reflection; she’s done the hard work of making sense of the contradictions in her mother, and now we get the benefit of her sharing what she’s learned.