The Emmy-winning star of Everybody Loves Raymond pens an engaging, effervescent story of her life.
Heaton’s humor occasionally lapses into strained wisecracking, and she repeats some details, but these are minor flaws in that rare thing—an upbeat memoir that doesn’t obsess about the rough times but instead is beguilingly sensible and wise about what’s important: the author’s family, faith, and craft. “I suffer from an early childhood malady that’s more common than you’ve been led to believe,” she begins. “I call it Way Too Normal and Happy Upbringing Syndrome.” Born and raised in a suburban Cleveland house filled with laughter, she belonged, like many of her neighbors, to a large, Catholic family. The local children played together, building snow forts in winter and picking berries along the rail track in summer, knowing that they could stay outside unsupervised until the streetlights came on. Her father was a sportswriter for The Cleveland Plain-Dealer; her mother, a homemaker who read widely, especially theology, died from an aneurysm when Heaton was 12. But the family held together, and Heaton now realizes that “bad breaks are not the worst things that can happen to you.” As she details her bumpy road to stardom—in New York she waited tables, proofread on the graveyard shift at Morgan Stanley, and washed her hair with shampoo samples handed out on the street—the actress also describes her religious journey from staunch Catholicism to staunch Presbyterianism. After moving to Los Angeles, she married, had four sons, and began to get the parts that matter—and pay. Though she loves acting, Heaton also loves her kids and admits it’s tough to raise them in present-day La-La Land: “Life was simpler in Cleveland. Parents were only expected to feed, clothe, house and educate their kids. Today you’re supposed to raise their self-esteem, give them piano and tae kwon do lessons, and teach them to download research for their kindergarten report.”
An invigorating breath of fresh air.