A TV actor reflects on his life (so far) and a love of birding.
Noting that at 30, he is too young to pen a memoir, Harding, known for his role as Ezra Fitz on ABC’s Pretty Little Liars, instead compiles an affable collection of stories, anecdotes, and memories of his time in Hollywood and his affinity for bird-watching. Though they don’t appear on the West coast, cardinals are plentiful in Virginia, where Harding grew up in a military family, and he writes fondly of how these birds still bring serenity and a sense of protectiveness for him. The author connects many of his Los Angeles adventures to his experience as an avid birder and a lover of the natural world around him, though as an adolescent, he hid his unconventional interest out of fear of being ostracized by classmates. Harding also explores his childhood penchant for tantrums and troublemaking; exhausting a steady stream of babysitters, he behaved in a manner that starkly contrasted with his “practically angelic” older sister, Sarah. Elsewhere, tales of acting classes at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama and a bold, postgraduate, cross-country move to Hollywood after driving for four days demonstrate Harding’s sheer dedication to acting. Fledgling actors will appreciate chapters on the craft of acting, the author's acquisition of the TV role that established him in LA, and the mechanics of on-set scenes. Thoughts on mockingbirds, woodpeckers, the massive California condor, and Harding’s palpable excitement over an arctic loon “rare-bird alert” are equally fervent. The author deftly interweaves both acting and nature loving into a unique group of memories and experiences. Harmless and pleasantly innocuous, the narrative stays in the safe zone yet is revealing enough to leave fans and birders satisfied.
Animal lovers in particular will find much to savor in this endearing, breezy memoir from a young, enterprising Hollywood actor.