Four star review, originally posted here on August 14, 2019.
I don’t even know how I stumbled onto this book. I didn’t know who Alison Arndgrim was, don’t think I’ve ever even seen an episode of Little House on the Prarie, etc. But somehow this wound up in my audiobooks. And holy cow, was I ever pleasantly surprised! This book was GOOD, and Arngrim, as a professional actress and comedian, did a great job reading her own story with a humorous tone that draws you in like your best gal pal is letting you in on a little secret. Even though Arngrim’s entire world was entirely foreign to me, her story is fascinating enough and hew viewpoints strong enough to keep me interested throughout. My only regret about having done the audiobook version is that I couldn’t go back to highlight some of her strongest passages.
Arngrim makes interesting points about how we view characters and the people behind them. Her life is peppered with people wearing masks of various makings. Gay loved ones who posed as straight. Traumatized broken children playing wholesome pioneers. Perfect TV Dad being blitzed on set and cursing like a sailor. I was especially interested in her points about how most kid actors are treated, and how she lucked out because Nellie was the first character she’d read for who had some fucking depth; that villainous depth set her free where tons of other child actors have to uphold an unrealistic saintly image that screws them up for life.
I don’t know if anything I just said makes any sense, but it totally does when Arndrim says it. Great memoir; highly recommend, even if you don’t know shit about the author or the world of Little House.