Thursday, January 20, 2011

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim

This unusual read about the life of Alison Arngrim who played Nellie Oleson on the TV series Little House on the Prairie, came to me by way of good friend and fellow reader Steph.   Neither of us is particularly the celebrity tell-all type of reader, but I think that her recommendation based on her love of the Little House on the Prairie books and TV series spurred me on to read as well.  I waited on the library list for a few months before it came to me.

I wasn't prepared to finish it or even like it, but I found myself really drawn into Alison's story and her life as a child actress before, during and after Little House.  I loved the observations about her fellow actors.  She is very candid and these were people I felt like I knew well.  She writes about the kind of work ethic Michael Landon pushed on the show, her friendship with Melissa Gilbert and observations about all the various characters and actors she came to know over her 7 years on the show.  She also talks about what playing Nellie Oleson did for her personally and professionally. She enjoyed playing the bitch and will be forever grateful to Nellie for teaching her how be a strong, resourceful and assertive woman.

Warning: The main story in this book is not  the behind the scenes look at the  Little House production and actors and sets.  The main story is about the horrors of childhood sexual abuse and how she eventually confronted her own tragic past and began to fight for the rights of other children.  Her story is painful to read but also important and triumphant.

Alison's a decent writer and also has another life as an activist and comedian.  If you watched Little House as a kid (as Steph and I did)  and don't mind being caught reading a celeb tell-all, I highly recommend this story.

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